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The desperation of the rice farmers let down by the controversial rice-pledging scheme will appeal to His Majesty the King on Thursday in a hope to find a solution to the overdue payment situation.
Prakasit Jaemjumrat, a farm leader said that a group would gather the names and signatures of those farmers affected by nonpayment in Phichit, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Pet and Nakhon Sawan, the petition will be submitted to the Royal Household Bureau on Thursday. This measure is being taken after all other attempts to bring attention to the situation such as road blockades has fallen on deaf ears. Prakasit said that in one province alone the government owes Bt7.5 billion in rice p. yments to 40,000 farmers who are out of pocket.
Yesterday one thousand farmers from Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Ratchaburi gathered at Ratchaburi’s Wang Manao intersection yesterday and totally blocked the Phet Kasem Road causing a 10km long traffic jam thought Phet Kasem and Rama II road.
The farmers have apologized to motorists for the inconvenience, but have vowed to continue to block the road if the government do not send a representative to negotiate with them and will stay for months if they have to, until they are paid.
Some 500 farmers from Phichit, Nakhon Sawan, Khamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai and Phitsanulok blocked one Bangkok-bound lane of a road in front of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC)’s Bung Na Rang branch in Phichit yesterday, calling for the pledged rice payments. The group said this would be their final battle to get answers about pledged rice payments from the caretaker government.
The farmers at the rally also registered and submitted their documents for the royal petition. Ang Thong agriculture council president Songpol Pulsawat said that a letter from Ang Thong farmers to the caretaker government – via the provincial governor on January 22 – for the overdue payments to be paid by January 31, hadn’t seen any progress. As a result, the farmers would block a main road in the province on February 6.
The group wanted the caretaker government to pay them for the pledged rice or let the farmers borrow money from the BAAC, with the caretaker government covering the loan interest for them. The farmers expected a caretaker government representative to pick up their demand by February 6 at the rally site – or else the road blockade would continue, he added.