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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     8  October  2011                    

Thailand's rice support program starts

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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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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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