FACED with low paddy price, an assistant village chief in Phitsanulok province took the initiative of gathering 20 famers to set up a village rice mill and mill the paddy themselves which they are selling directly on Facebook and obtaining double the profit they would have if they had just sold unmilled paddy, Thai News Agency said today.
Virach Thongdonyod, assistant village chief of Borthong subdistrict in Phitsanulok’s Bangrakam district, is selling the rice which he and his group of farmers are milling themselves under the brand “Rice from the Good Fields of Baan Borthong” at 35 baht a kilogram or 500 baht for a big bag of 15 kilograms.
Yesterday the Rice Policy and Management Committee or the rice board agreed to adjust up the pledging price of 2016-17 main crop Hom Mali paddy from 11,525 baht/tonne to 13,000 baht/tonne under the program to delay the sale of paddy through credit extension to be implemented immediately until February 28, 2017, Thai PBS said today.
The five-month program, which will help about two million Hom Mali rice farmers covering an area of 26 million rai, will cost the government 20 billion baht in expenditure budget.
Under the program, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will accept paddy pledged by farmers at a fixed price of 9,500 baht/tonne or 90 percent of market price estimated at 11,000 baht/tonne. On top of that, farmers will receive 2,000 baht/tonne for quality improvement fee plus 1,500 baht/tonne for storage fees for farmers who have their own barns to store the pledged paddy with the first 1,000 baht to be paid immediately to farmers and the rest to be paid when the paddy is redeemed.
For farmers who do not have their own facility to store paddy, they will receive 9,500 baht/tonne for the paddy plus 2,000 baht/tonne for rice quality improvement fee.
Prime Minister Prayut Cha-ocha who chaired the rice board meeting on Tuesday said farmers who do not have their own barns or warehouses to store paddy can sell their crops to the market and receive an extra of 2,000 baht/tonne for quality improvement fee to be transferred to their bank accounts by the BAAC.
He insisted that the board had consulted legal experts who said the program could be legally launched because it was not a program to receive pledging of every grain of rice and also the rice pledged would not be kept in government’s storage facilities.
He said he hoped farmers would be satisfied with the government’s rice pledging scheme. He also begged for understanding from farmers, saying the government has limited funds and has to take care of many other people in distress.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn said that market price of Hom Mali paddy fluctuates between 9,700-11,000 baht/tonne, prompting the rice board to call a second meeting to adjust the pledging price of paddy from 11,525 baht to 13,000 baht/tonne.
She maintained that the Commerce Ministry did not forbid farmers to sell their crops among themselves, but if the amount involved is huge, the farmers would have to register.
Top: Stalks of recently harvested paddy in Northern Thailand. Photo: Dan Mitler (CC-BY-2.0)