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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             3  September 2011

Rush to support rice questioned

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The pell-mell rush of the new Thai government to revive rice pledging this year will likely benefit certain groups of traders and millers, as the amount of second-crop grain in the hands of farmers is low, say experts.

The program will start October 7 and is aimed at mortgaging all of this year's second crop. However, the Office of Agricultural Economics said output from the second crop has been low, so it is not necessary for the government to speed up the mortgage plan.

Some 84,000 tonnes of paddy will enter the market this month or only 0.84% of the 10 million expected. Production will be an even smaller 20,000 tonnes next month.

The tiny paddy volume has raised questions about the haste to launch the programme only a month ahead of the main-crop harvesting season that starts in November.

A trade source said most of grain from the output to date had been sold and was not in the hands of the farmers, accounting for this week's strong market in which paddy moved at 9,800 to 10,000 baht a tonne.

"The government must have a mechanism to ensure that the paddy pledged next month does not come from traders or millers trying to gain a big margin," said the source.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong announced the government would begin the pledging scheme on October 7, paying 15,000 baht a tonne for white rice and 20,000 baht for Hom Mali fragrant paddy.

Pramote Vanichanont, honorary president of the Thai Rice Millers Association, said the rice harvest in October is normally light, with only early-rice varieties such as Hom Mali produced.

"Thailand harvests 20 percent of its output in November, 50 percent in December and the rest over the next two months," he said.

The programme will be run in the absence of the proposed farmers' credit-card scheme, a tool that the Pheu Thai Party vowed to use to guard against malfeasance.

Mr. Pramote said that means there will be no way of preventing the corruption through pledging that damaged the industry so badly in the past.

"How do we stop paddy from Burma and Cambodia, which is low at 6,000 baht and 7,000 baht a tonne, respectively, from coming in and enjoying such a big difference?" he asked.


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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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