• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Thailand offers rice at a loss as it struggles to pay farmers


Thailand’s embattled government on Friday in Bangkok offered to sell rice at a huge loss, to shore up Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s support among farmers.

Thailand was having a massive rice stockpile of over 17 million tones.

Reuters reports that this has become necessary as Thai government has to rely on domestic sales to pay the mounting bills it owes rice farmers in Yingluck’s provincial strongholds

It said Thai government offered rice at around 30 per cent below cost on the export market.

Surasak Riangkrul, Director-General, Foreign Trade Department, which oversees sales of the government’s rice stocks said the adjustment has become imperative for survival.

“We need to adjust ourselves in order to sell rice at appropriate prices to get liquidity to run the rice-buying scheme,” said.

Riangkrul declined to disclose the exact price Thailand was offering.

An official who preferred anonymity said government quoted 475 dollars a tone.

He said this was almost a third below the estimated cost of 669 dollars per tone that government incurred on buying paddy from farmers, milling and storage.

Reuters said the exercise, which has cost the government billions of dollars, has fuelled the political crisis being played out on the streets of Bangkok.

It said protesters are seeking to topple the government, which swept to power in 2011 with support from rural voters.

It said many of the rice farmers had welcomed the generous intervention scheme but city dwellers are angered that their taxes are paying for the subsidy.

It said hundreds of farmers, some unpaid since October, have also joined the demonstrations against Yingluck, disillusioned by the government’s inability to reliably fund the controversial programme.

It said farmers who have not been paid by the state for rice bought under the scheme threatened to block roads in 26 provinces last month.