Oct 29, 2008

Maize growers rally in Chiang Mai

THAILAND Thai News Agency MCOT - Bangkok, Oct 28, 2008

Also, the cabinet on Tuesday agreed to offer a minimum guaranteed price for cassava at Bt1.80 a kilogramme, aimed at preventing growers from demonstrating. ...


CHIANG MAI, Oct 28 (TNA) - More than 2,000 maize growers rallied at the offices of the governor of this northern province Tuesday, expressing dissatisfaction at what they call a too-low price offered by the government earlier in the day.

In Bangkok, Internal Trade Department director-general Yanyong Phuangrach said the Cabinet approved guaranteeing maize purchases at Bt8.50 per kilogramme. He said the government would start buying maize on November 1 and that the purchase programme would extend through December 30. The government has set aside a total of Bt4.25 billion to buy the commodity.

To prevent domestic prices from declining, the ministry will also ban imports of maize during the harvest season, said Mr. Yanyong.

Upon learning of the cabinet decision, the demonstrators expressed dissatisfaction, charging that the guaranteed price is too low. They said growers in Chiang Mai's Mae Chaem district, for example, must pay Bt1 per kilo just for transportation cost to the silos which have joined the government programme.

Some 60,000 tonnes of maize now remain needing about Bt40 million for transport costs, Mr. Yanyong said,
but the Chiang Mai Administrative Organisation has pledged to provide only Bt2 million to help, a sum the
farmers say is not enough.

The growers also demanded that the Cabinet's decision must be made in writing as to when the government will implement maize purchases at the guaranteed price and with which agencies.

Farmers threatened to block entrances of provincial officials throughout the night Tuesday night if no satisfactorily answer is received.

Protest leader Uthai Boonthiam said maize is grown in over 100,000 rai in Chiang Mai, with an output of nearly one million tonnes, but that 20 per cent of the total yield was damaged due to heavy rains.

The protesters later dispersed after their demands were met. The provincial authorities made the cabinet's decision in writing that the government will implement maize purchases at the guaranteed price of Bt8.50, starting on Nov1 .

Also, the cabinet on Tuesday agreed to offer a minimum guaranteed price for cassava at Bt1.80 a kilogramme, aimed at preventing growers from demonstrating.

The government's guaranteed price for cassava will be up 5 satang per month with the ceiling price set at Bt1.90 a kilogramme.

According to Mr. Yanyong, the government will buy a maximum of 5 million tonnes of cassava, beginning November 1 with purchases possible through April 30 next year. The government will set aside more than Bt10 billion for the six-month purchase programme plus insurance and warehouse expenses. (TNA)

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