Rice farmers are calling for a ceiling on the value of rice that a farmer can pawn to the government to prevent huge losses for the government after some farmers abused their right to join the unlimited pledging scheme.
The move came after the government said it planned to continue the pledging project for the second harvest season starting next month and continuing to June.
The pledging scheme places no upper limits on the volume or value of rice to be mortgaged.
The guarantee price under the scheme is Bt15,000 per tonne for white paddy rice.
Prasith Boonchuey, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association, said yesterday that the government should cap the value of pledged rice at Bt500,000 per household.
On average, farmers will cultivate 30-40 rai (4.8-6.4 hectares) of paddy fields and reap at least Bt350,000 from the pledging scheme.
However, with volume and value unlimited, the government must bear high expenses and unscrupulous farmers or traders can circumvent farmers' rights and join the pledging project.
The government should consider revising the scheme to ensure that most of the benefits fall to farmers rather than cheating traders, Prasith said.
Rice millers have also urged the government to lower the pledging price from Bt15,000 to Bt14,000 per tonne for 5-per-cent white paddy rice to ensure high quality of the rice entering the scheme.
Banjong Tangjitwattanakul, vice president of the Thai Rice Millers Association, said the government should set different pledging conditions for different grades of rice so that it will get high quality rice for its stocks.
To ensure stable prices for Thai rice in the world market, the government should focus on government-to-government contracts for its stock releases to prevent prices falling severely, he said.
Vatchari Vimooktayon, director-general of the Internal Trade Department of the Commerce Ministry, said the government would finalise details for the pledging scheme for the second crop in two weeks for the Rice National Policy Committee.
The government plans to keep the pledging price at Bt15,000 per tonne. It is projected that 8 million to 9 million tonnes of paddy entered the government's stocks, she said.
Source: The Nation