Thailand farmers head to Bangkok to demand payment from govt: More Thai farmers are headed to Bangkok to demand long overdue payments from the government’s rice pledging scheme, according to reports.
Several hundred farmers from at least 10 provinces have been rallying at the Commerce Ministry in Bangkok since last Thursday.
Another 20 farmers from the north arrived on Sunday to join them, and 70 more are reportedly en route from Kanjanaburi.
An anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader from the north, Thepthun Tiewtrakul, warned the caretaker government of Yingluck Shinawatra that an additional 500 farmers from other districts will soon join them in Bangkok, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Many farmers are in debt because they have not received the money promised by the government under the populist rice pledging scheme, which was a major part of the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s platform in the 2011 election.
The farmers need the money to pay for fertiliser, insecticides and other expenses used in farming. Some farmers are reportedly borrowing money from loan sharks to pay for the next crop and household expenses, despite highly charged interest rates.
The unpaid farmers plan to rally Monday by walking to the Justice Ministry to demand justice from the caretaker government, piling pressure on Ms Yingluck to find a way to pay the money owed under the rice scheme up to six months ago.
The government is scrambling to get 130 billion baht to pay them. The Pheu Thai Party has scheduled a meeting on Monday with the farmer issue a top priority.
Ms Yingluck has said her government is duty-bound to pay the farmers.
The populist rice scheme programme has long faced criticism and warnings of huge money losses from the beginning by academics, rice experts, and the opposition Democrat Party.
The government has accused the PDRC of pulling strings behind the farmers’ rally to pile more pressure on Ms Yingluck’s government. The PDRC has denied the allegations.
The PDRC did collect 9.2 million baht in public donations Friday to help the farmers continue their campaign to demand payment from the government. They plan to collect more on Monday, hoping to raise a total of up to 15 million baht.