ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand's rice support program starts
The Thai government's rice mortgage scheme made its debut yesterday.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra officially launched the project, a key policy platform of the Pheu Thai Party, at the Commerce Ministry.
She insisted that the project, which has been subject to heavy criticism by academics and technocrats as being vulnerable to corruption, is a means to boost farmers' income.
The prime minister also said the government has included many new measures in the scheme to ensure it is fair and free of cheating. These include the issuance of rice ownership documents, strict monitoring of cross-province transport of paddy and ultimately DNA testing to prevent cheaper rice from neighboring countries being mortgaged under the program.
Commerce Ministry permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach said farmers found violating the rules of the mortgage program would be black-listed and barred from taking part in it for life.
Observing the first day of the mortgage scheme at Sripattanapanich Rice Mill in Nonthaburi, Deputy Commerce Minister Phum Saraphol said not many farmers came in yesterday. But it was not too crowded and some farmers could finish the mortgage process in one day instead of three.
On concerns about the smuggling of rice from neighboring countries, which sells at lower prices than the mortgage rate, Mr. Phum said the police, Department of Special Investigation and provincial authorities would have to find ways to prevent such fraud.
He said technology is available that could check the rice DNA to determine if it is grown in Thailand or not, based on the original seeds given to farmers.
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