Media War

exposing media bias in Thailand

rice money” & BJT party

I am trying to follow the development in the rice money saga in Thailand  as well as in general  the farmers plight. because rice is the main food in this country and may be even whole Asia, and it is one of the major Thai export commodities (in fact Thailand is still considered world’s largest exporter)  and therefore naturally the biggest  money making source.

naturally being a biggest “cookie jar“, it is very closely related to the economical, social and political situation in Thailand. as saying goes – “follow the money” !  😉

so, naturally one of the easiest way to  figure out the  politics in Thailand   is to follow the rice money. that’s what I am trying to do by following  news related to rice trade and farmers struggle to  get their rightful position in this trade system  and in the country’s affairs. and I am trying to  blog  on what I read.  although I have to admit that  it is  not so easy, because  there is not much information about it – unless there are some troubles, like  faction within government fighting for better “slice of cake”  (revenues)  or  when  farmers go on strike, or when some traders / exporters bully  government and / or farmers  into submission to their whims.  therefore  I am only able to collect irregular  reports of these news and extract some small pieces from them which at least help to get some picture of what’s really going on in Thailand with rice money and accordingly with the farmers’  and labor movement.

so, here are  couple of newest articles in local Thai MSM.

the first one is on Nation:  “Party woos rice farmers with new policies

With an ambition to win big in the next general election, the Bhum Jai Thai Party yesterday kicked off two new policies to woo votes from rice farmers with the goal of improving the quality of their life to be on par with rubber and sugar farmers.

During a three-day seminar ending yesterday at Sakhon Nakhon, the party revealed details of two proposals launched as pilot projects. The first is called – one tambon administrative organisation, one rice bank and one rice mill.

Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul, Bhum Jai Thai Party leader said the party wanted to help free farmers from debt by setting up rice banks and mills to empower farmers to dictate rice prices like farmers of other agricultural produce, such as sugar cane and rubber. The Tambon Administrative Organisations, the closest agencies to farmers, would be responsible in setting up the system. “This is the best method for decentralisation and solving farmers’ problems,” he said.

Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said the project would reduce the problem of rice farmers – that traders push down rice prices. “The Bhum Jai Thai Party is confident we can completely eradicate the problem of falling rice prices,” she said…

This idea of the project … can help the government reduce budget spending on market intervention that reaches Bt50 billion a year,” Newin said.

another article is by Bkk Post :  “Bhumjaithai goes on the road

Interior Minister and Bhumjaithai leader Chaovarat Charnvirakul,

right, talks to party heavyweight Newin Chidchob

The Bhumjaithai Party has unveiled a policy package for rural areas, and was immediately accused of trying to influence voters in a coming by-election.

Unveiling its package of measures at a party “seminar” yesterday, Bhumjaithai executives told villagers in Phana Nikhom district they were ready to fight the next general election. The policies include a rice bank and rice mill for each province, playing fields in each village, ambulances for every health station, and irrigation system for every tambon

“We have the policies. But I can’t predict when the next general election will take place,” he said.

The Bhumjaithai Party is at odds with its coalition partner, the Democrat Party, over two of its main policies: the bus lease project for Bangkok and management of mortgaged farm products for rural areas.

Bhumjaithai heavyweights Somsak Thepsuthin and Newin Chidchob have criticised the Democrats for attempting to stonewall the projects.

The mortgage scheme is overseen by Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai, who at yesterday’s launch unveiled a policy to provide each province with a rice bank and a rice mill.

“We will probably have to wait until a new government is elected before we can implement, it,” Mrs Porntiva said.

Northeastern provinces would get the rice banks and rice mills first, as they needed them most and the policy involved a large investment.

A rice bank and rice mill would give smaller farmers more negotiating power and would stop them being cheated by middlemen, she said. The rice bank would include a paddy dehumidifier to allow rice to be stocked longer.

At present, farmers have to sell rice to middlemen at below market value right after harvest because they lack humidifier technology, she said.

Tambon administration organisations would run the scheme, which would free the state from having to mortgage rice products from farmers.

Bhumjaithai would also give a million baht sports playing area to each village, Mr Boonjong said.

Deputy Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodee said the party would also provide an ambulance for every local health station, to improve access to hospitals.

A promise of an irrigation system for each tambon was given by Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Supachai Phosu.

The party unveiled its promises about an hour’s drive from the border of Sawang Daen Din district, in the same province where the by-election will be held on June 21. The Bhumjaithai candidate, Pitak Jantasee, is going up against the Puea Thai Party’s Anurak Boonsorn.

wow !   this is quite a surprise actually,   I wonder –  why it is being proposed only now, couldn’t BJT or anyone else   imagine some solution like this  earlier?  what they have been doing and waiting for all these years ever since  1932,  or at least  since 1992 ?   why  so suddenly now  BJT  came up tih such ideas ?  😉

are they actually sincere in these proposals ?

the name  “one tambon one bank & mill” I guess that  will be  “OTOBM”  (or “OTOMB“, to make it sort of rhymy 🙂 ) ?  something like former TRT/ Thaksin’s  project “OTOP“.

well, that is at least already  some start , I guess   – to empower farmers and let them improve their economical position. as well as  certainly help the government to save money and also help the whole country to improve its  position on international market as a competative rice exporter – because now its former #1 position is greatly challenged by Vietnam and India.  allowing farmers to have better prices through the Tambon owned bank and  mill  may certainly help  to avoid  being bullied by middlemen and  millers, the “blood suckers” who are mostly responsible for prices supression.   it is at least can be considered as a first step.

although there are many question remain…

one question is :    what will be the level of participation of farmers themselves in this system?

it is said that Tambon Administrative Organisations will be in charge – alright, I guess that is logical, since that is supposed duty of those entities.

but then – where is the guarantee that  the same current  “blood suckers” (middlemen and  millers)  will not control those Tambon Administrative Organisations and according the whole “new”  system ?  I very much suspect a big chance of such possibility, because after all,  these guys are those who has money. if so, then  it won’t help farmers much  to  “dictate prices”, because they will still be  dependant on SAME  “blood suckers“, who would merely  change their appearance. then what’s the point in this ?

for system to be effective and progresive, to be able to bring real change,  farmers must be given a large role  in the managing these new “OTOBMs”  – not the same crony capitalists !

ideally of course  it should be rather made in the form of local farmers  cooperatives,  who would together own both mills and banks  and ALL the profits shared for the benefit of themselves, members of such cooperatives, for the sake of further development of their farms, villages, cooperatives and whatever other projects as  schools, clinics etc.

somehow I am afraid that it is not going to happen- that farmers would not be allowed to own these  organizations, but instead the same old “blood suckers” along with  Tambon bosses and most likely BJT  (or  whoever local MPs)  ripping the  rice moneyand the farmers continue being  disadvantaged.

second question :   where from  Tambon Administrative Organisations  will get the funds  to   finance  these new projects and  for banks to be able to give loans to  farmers and also for mills to operate ?  because naturally those who pay – they do control these institutions.

I suspect that  it would be either government (or local authorities), or  the same old “blood suckers“.   that wouldn’t change much.

third question :     what about other important  aspects as  storage, transportation,  fertilisers, technical maintainance etc ?

these also has to be managed and preferably farmers either mutually own them, or be able to  produce their own, or  have some sort of  fund  which would be used for paying for these – so that they are not continu being robbed by some other greedy and dishonest  “blood suckers“.

fourth question :   what about the  standards imposed by  Ministry of Commerce  (or  whatever other authority) for the rice quality, which  currently mostly benefit the old same clique of “blood suckers” –   those very middlemen, millers,  and rice exporters ?!   to be consistence  BJT  or whatever next government which is sincere to  bring change to the country and empower rural folks  MUST    ensure that the prsent system is changed or adjusted so that to try eventually ELIMINATE all the remaining “blood suckers“, those parasites who  themselves do not  produce  rice, but atcually   are the main and REAL  enjoyers of the  rice money”  !

so, to be consistent and dedicated to CHANGE,  whatever next government  must seriously consider  to do something about present system and “standards”. perhaps  merely creating “rice banks and mills”  is  not enough,  even  a superficial  action – if   farmers will still not be able to  sell their produce,  like rice,  DIRECTLY to the  end-consumers  (as urban dwellers, fellow Thais  who need to eat rice daily but can’t grow it themselves and have to buy it – for MUCH HIGHER price than it is in the villages !)  or also to the  foreign wholesale buyers.

to be sincere in their effort to TRULY help farmers  improve their lives and  economical situation, as well as automaticall help the whole country both internally and externally,  BJT  or whichever other party or  coalition of parties  must think about all these points  and not limit their effort to half-measures, but go all the way till the end,  to totally change  the WHOLE  current rotten and  patronising (in favor of  “blood suckers” ) system !

otherwise  these half-mesures – and that’s precisely how I see  this whole BJT’s project –  will not benefit farmers at all, but only the same  “blood suckers” :  middlemen brokers, millers,  exporters  AND  unscrupulous politicians and power brokers  who are lobbied (aka get money)  from all these.  in the end farmers  will still be in the yok of practical slavery, and  other ordinary folks as labors and civil workers in cities  pay  artificially  higher prices for their “daily ruice”, as well as government will contiue losing money to “pledge”, subsides,  cover loses  (aka benefit “blood suckers“, not famers) AND  ultimately country  as whole will continue  lose competition  on the internaltional market to its neighbours !

so, it is  in everybody’s interests actually to CHANGE  the present system.

the problem of course is – that  all the “blood suckers”  are too rich and powerful now  to simply give up their  blood-sucking positions.

therefore  I am not sure at all that  BJT  will be even allowed to  implement this idea, even in its infantile  half-mesured form as proposed now.

what to speak – maintain it, especially if  full measured  form is implemented,  and yet to remain as government.  like previously Thaksin’s  1mln Baht loan for each village has made  all the “blood suckers”  furios with rage – that he has attempted so to put them out of business.  so, where is a guarantee that this time  the same “blood suckers”  will not  do everything possible to prevent  such attempts to  put them out of business ?   I am sure pretty soon will be some reaction to this BJT’s   anounced policy !

therefore I fell like this  bold  campaign by BJT  party is more like a gamble than a real  solid  policy.  that is why I think in some sense and to some extent Nation is right in saying that  it is more like a  new populist “vote-buying scheme” rather than some actual serious effort.   nevertheless, it is  already a new  developement  – at least some resemblance of  efforts to change the system. at least, even it will fail,  it will make people think and  awake to reality, and may be eventually try harder to change the present system.

but  if to be realistic – I am  not sure that it will work at all.  most probably even now  all the “blood suckers”  already  hastily make sure that  BJT  doesn’t win and  therefore  no any such changes happen.  I think there will be some back-clash  from their side – like,  trying to discredit BJT party.

also I think nowadays farmers are not that stupid anymore and they  can see through these half-mesures.  so, from their side also there is no any guarantee that they will be so easily fooled by  BJT’s  populistic  policies and   vote for them.  if they are really smart – they should try to   take this opportunity and  bargaign for a higher bid – to  let  some other parties   make a BETTER OFFER,  more wholesome / complete package !   because  taking into consideration  that present government coalition with Dem. party  in the center  are  not so shy to employ those very populist  policies  of their rivals which  till very recently they have strongly critisized and even condemned themselves –   my guess is that    to be able to  even contest in the next elections,  ALL the other parties will employ more or less same populist tactis. therefore, I think there will be several parties trying to   compete  to offer a better  package – and farmers  should  carefully  and smartly  bargain  for the BEST offer !

well, that’s my thoughts.    I think  the fact that  this new poject even  anounced indicates that  I am not alone in  contemplating  all this stuff. rather there must be many other people,  who are naturally more involved and conserned, and therefore  are more competent  and professional in this  matter.   so what I mean is – I see this as a good sign, and hope that  sooner or later some things will start to change.


June 8, 2009 - Posted by | "Rice money" | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. some reports from 6th Asean Leadership Forum in Bkk :

    Asia Relies Too Much On Western Economies
    … The impact of the current crisis was illustrated by Dr Chieanchuang Kalayanamitr, the chairman of Maxon Systems and former economic advisor to the Thai Government, who said about 10 million poor Thais would be severely affected.

    He said his own company, which exports electronic and electrical products, had laid off 30 percent of its workforce as income dropped by 50 percent.

    He added that the company earned 1.6 trillion bahts in 2008 but is likely to see a 30 to 40 percent reduction this year.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. Rice deals back to drawing board

    The government will revoke deals for 2.6 million tonnes of second-crop rice with exporters, and plans a new bid to dispose of stockpiles of about 5.5 million tonnes of milled rice…

    An industry source said the government would scrap deals on which payment had not yet been made, but would release about 100,000 tonnes of paid-for rice to certain private-sector bidders.

    The cabinet last month stopped the ministry’s planned sales for fear of losses, even though the ministry had signed deals with 17 companies…

    The government is paying farmers 11,800 baht per tonne of second crop paddy, against market prices of 10,000 to 10,500 baht, which has attracted a large supply…

    Comment by antipadshist | June 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. Special Report:
    Rice Price Guarantee Scheme

    The Rice mortgage is one of many methods the government uses to assist farmers by manipulating rice prices. However, there are problems found in the government rice mortgage scheme, including produce adulteration and price arbitrage. The government under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva therefore initiated the idea to use a rice price guarantee scheme instead of the existing rice mortgage scheme.

    Under the rice price guarantee scheme, farmers are required to register and sign a lowest-price guarantee contract with a branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives in their area. During the price guarantee period, if the market prices of rice are lower than the guaranteed prices, farmers participating in the scheme will receive the price differentials. On the contrary, if the market prices are higher than the guaranteed prices, the farmers will be allowed to sell their produce in the market as usual. In other words, the rice price guarantee scheme is similar to typical insurances; an insurance buyer will be compensated if problems arise. But if there are no problems, the insurance buyer’s premium will be considered as hedging costs. Such costs can in a way prevent the farmers from dishonestly reporting their rice stocks to the government.

    The rice price guarantee scheme is also less complicated than the rice mortgage scheme and it gives fixed rice for the farmers will sell their produce at. The rice price guarantee scheme also rids the government of the necessity to use warehouses to store rice or to process the produce as common in the mortgage scheme. It can therefore be concluded that the rice price guarantee is an effective method to prevent corruption and distortion of the market mechanism and at the same time assure the farmers that they will sell their produce at reasonable prices.

    However, the rice price guarantee scheme may cost the government dearly if the market prices are much lower than the guaranteed prices. The scheme also requires clear and easy methods to inspect farmer registration, and the government needs to be able to clarify details of the scheme to farmers to prevent misunderstandings.

    President of the Horticulture Association of Thailand Dr. Anant Dalodom warned that flaws of the rice price guarantee scheme might cause damage to the agricultural sector although it seemingly had more pros than the rice mortgage scheme. He suggested that the government should clearly set the guaranteed prices and premiums paid by the farmers with the government subsidizing the premiums at the early stage of the scheme.

    The rice price guarantee scheme can effectively assist farmers and indirectly expand the nation’s rice plantations as it was designed to increase farmers’ profits from rice sales.

    so, there is nothing mentioned about middlemen and about rice exporters – who are actually the MAIN players who infuence the prices !

    Comment by antipadshist | June 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. relevant news (about rubber farmers)

    Rubber group threatens mass protest
    Rubber farmers are threatening protest action unless the government gives their cooperative 8 billion baht so it can prop up prices.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Somchai slams ‘poor governance’

    Ex-PM says govt should focus on farming problems instead of incurring huge debt on mega-projects.

    He urged for a focus on farming problems in lieu of the attempt to incur public debt to finance mega projects…

    Comment by antipadshist | June 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. Let the “cake sharing” begin ! 😀

    Intense House debate on the cards over key legislation

    The political mercury is expected to rise during today’s live broadcast of the House debate as coalition and opposition lawmakers clash over two key legislation pieces on public debt.

    Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij are slated to make passionate pleas for passage of the legislation to authorise the government to borrow Bt800 billion to overcome the economic downturn.

    The opposition Pheu Thai Party will put up a strong fight by arguing the government is not gearing up to tackle economic woes but to divide the debt-financed cake among coalition partners in order to cling to power.

    The opposition will be led by Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who will be backed up by another 40 opposition MPs, including Mingkwan Saengsuwan and Panpree Pahittanukorn.

    Of the total loans, the government has earmarked Bt500 billion for mega-projects under the jurisdiction of the Bhum Jai Thai Party. The remaining Bt300 billion will be shared by the Democrat and the Chart Thai Pattana parties…

    The debate will start off with the deliberation of the decree to authorise the borrowing of Bt400 billion, followed by the draft legislation for additional loans worth Bt400 billion.

    The vote on the legislative passage will take place tomorrow, following the conclusion of the debate.

    After the House deliberation, the two pieces of legislation will be forwarded for debate in the Senate, scheduled for next Monday.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. related article today on Bkk Post, about BJT campaign :

    the Bhumjaithai (BJT) Party, a spinoff from TRT’s second incarnation just last year, seems to be gaining ground. In fact, it is threatening to overtake Puea Thai, which could be regarded as its parent.

    BJT, which consists mainly of politicians from what was once Thaksin’s vote base—the Northeast—is working to implement a new set of populist policies, and as it turns out, thenewpolicies seem to be more far-reaching, palpable and penetrating than what Thaksin sowed.

    The seminar or ‘‘reality show’’ staged by BJT inTambonBanNongphai-Nadee in Sakhon Nakhon province early this month was also more grand, with more politicians and villagers taking part, than a similar show Thaksin managed in Roi Et province in 2006.

    Directed by Newin Chidchob, the party’s banned leader, the show also appeared much more ‘‘real’’. The party’s MPs went to live, eat, plough rice fields and sleep with the villagers. It marks the first time that key ministers mixed so intimately with villagers in order to learn about theirneedsandtheir local wisdom.

    After three days and two nights, populist policies based on the what the MPs learned first-handfrom the villagers were drafted.

    For starters, BJT’s ‘‘one village, one sports ground’’ project and the ‘‘one sanitarium, one ambulance and one medical team’’ project aim to promote good health in an integrated manner.

    The ‘‘one TAO (Tambon Administration Organisation), one rice bank and one rice mill’’ project is a solution to the problem where middlemenpush down the prices of the rice they buy from farmers.

    The ‘‘dust-free road’’ project will be expanded to cover all provinces.

    Apart from these schemes, there are the ‘‘one village, one irrigation system’’ project and the ‘‘carbon-credit’’ project aimedat reducing pollution whilemaking money from the efforts.

    All these projects are collectively called Nongphai-Nadee Folk Wisdom after the locations where the policies originated. BJT plans to hold a similar seminar in either Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.

    Instead of coming up with its own policies, Puea Thai appealed to the Election Commission, saying that BJT had broken the law. It also claimed BJT’s leader violated the law by giving 2,000 baht to an elderly citizen during the seminar, a charge to which Chavarat Charnvirakul responded that he had just made a donation.

    By the looks of it, BJT is set to overtake Puea Thai, whose MPs are now busy pushing for constitutional amendments and dare not elect a new leader, as if to hint that nobody other than Thaksin could head the party. This strategy is wrong, and it would be even more wrong to wait for a wounded Thaksin to return and take the leadership. Puea Thai should make a decision to stake a new course, the sooner the better.

    from :

    Comment by antipadshist | June 14, 2009 | Reply

  8. PM says current price intervention system benefits
    less than 20 per cent of farmers

    Comment by antipadshist | June 14, 2009 | Reply

  9. Thai land office to confiscate land of poor Isan women married to foreigners?

    Confiscate the land of poor Thai women whose foreign husbands have bought them land and a house.

    This seems to have become the new cause celebre of the land office of the Thai government:

    The director general of the Land Department has reiterated that foreigners using Thai nominees to buy land anywhere in the country will have their land title deeds revoked if caught – even if the nominee in question is a lawfully wedded spouse.

    Land Department Director Anuwat Meteewiboonwut made the comments during a recent stop in Phuket as part of a nationwide inspection tour of 30 provinces…

    …As for foreigners seeking to buy homes in Phuket, they can do so through the Condominium Act, which allows foreign ownership of under half of the total area of any project, he said.

    Foreigners cannot use a Thai spouse as a nominee to buy property in Thailand, however.

    Poor people are being especially targeted:

    “If the Thai spouse has enough money to buy the house that is fine, but if the Thai has no money and uses money given to him or her by a foreigner to acquire property, that is against the law. If we check and find out later that a Thai person has been using money from a foreigner to buy land anywhere in Thailand, we will revoke title deeds,” he said.

    Khun Anuwat is apparently clueless about the realities of life in Thailand’s poorer rural areas…

    Such a policy that targets poor people is also perhaps a little strange after this years Black Songkran which pitted disgruntled poor farmers against Bangkok city dwellers.

    an interesting post, which is author’s reflection on the article published in Phuket gazette :

    Land purchase through Thai spouse forbidden: Land Dept

    I agree with author of the post, and perhaps would add : it seem like that establishment makes consistent efforts to further desinfranchise rural (and other poor) people and make sure that they do not get whatever meager ownership of land and property.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 13, 2009 | Reply

  10. another interesting op-ed:

    Farmers must be given land

    many things mentioned in this article relate to what Pira Sudham described in his books. it’s a shame that these things still go on!

    Comment by antipadshist | June 12, 2009 | Reply

  11. A scheme so badly flawed

    The cabinet on Tuesday approved an amazing 90 million baht for the purpose of destroying slightly more than 46,800 tonnes of dried lamyai (longan) held in the stockpiles of the Marketing Organisation for Farmers and the Public Warehouse Organisation.

    Expressing his dissatisfaction again at the crop mortgage programme, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the longan, which were bought in the years 2003 and 2004 during the Thaksin administration at a cost of 4.8 billion baht, were so rotten that they could not even be turned into fertiliser and had to be destroyed.

    He warned that this scandal should serve as a valuable lesson for the authorities concerned about how the crop mortgage scheme is to be managed in the future in order to prevent a recurrence of financial damage to the state….

    there are more mysteries to the controversy which have yet to be resolved, for instance the 50,000 tonnes of dried longan that have mysteriously gone missing and whether the figure of 300,000 tonnes of fresh longan bought under the scheme was intentionally inflated.

    Protests by rice farmers in the northern and northeastern provinces, suspected to have been manipulated by local politicians, have forced the Democrat-led government to back down and also to extend the mortgage scheme for rice to cover 6 million tonnes of paddy rice from the original 4 million tonnes.

    The estimated loss to the extended scheme for this year’s second-crop rice is put at 16 billion baht.

    Like the corrupt politicians and officials who love the crop mortgage scheme, farmers are fond of it too because they can fetch better prices for their harvests, which they deserve to.

    But the main beneficiaries are not the farmers for whom the scheme is supposed to serve, but the crop merchants who include the middlemen and the exporters and, particularly, corrupt politicians.

    The fact that most farmers remain poor or become poorer while the other beneficiaries become richer stands as irrefutable proof that the crop mortgage programme is badly flawed and in need of a major overhaul if not revoked altogether. Also, the scheme itself represents a distortion of the real market prices for crops which will affect Thailand’s competitiveness in the world market.

    well, perhaps after all someone sometime reads my blog ? 😉

    although to be mor realistic, I think it is just too obvious for anyone who bothers at all to think just a little bit about this whole system, and therefore the “thoughts are floating in the air” so to say – in other words, many people come to similar conclusions merely by observing the fishy affaird in the agri biz.

    Comment by antipadshist | June 12, 2009 | Reply

  12. just now on Channel 3, morning show by Sorayudh, he was talking on this matter and was some video reportage too about farmers:

    according to still acting gov. scheme, farmers come to sell their rice to the designated stations. one of them was giving interview and saying that he came to the station but officials there refused to buy explaining that “documents are not prepared, it will take min 1 week”. but farmer can;t wait, coz they have have no place to keep the stock and without proper storage it will spoil. so, they have no any other choice but sell it for MUCH cheaper price to some local eager and readily available middlemen, who pay very little price !

    so, this farmer who was explaining all this was almost crying, saying that after all the hard work finally they practically get nothing, even are at loss.

    and this is the REALITY of farmers’ situation in this country.
    the whole system is VERY corrupted and extremely beurocratic, especially made to benefit all the “blood suckers” (middlemen, brokers, and corrupt officials) and keep farmers practically enslaved !

    Comment by antipadshist | June 9, 2009 | Reply

  13. yesterday I have made a comment on some other blog practically on the same subject :

    “today I read in both Nation and Bkk Post that BJT party has started to earn support of farmers by promising them some new system for rice buying.

    well, in my opinion the only change will come if and when all the middlemen (aka blood suckers) will be removed from the whole process: some new system must be made where farmers would be able to sell their produce (it is a better word – because it can include not only rice but any agri products) AT LEAST directly to government, or may be even better, ideally – directly to the importers (foreign buyers) or end-sonsumers within the country !

    will this be ALLOWED (byt all those crony capitalists – middlemen, brokers, exporters) ? I doubt it very much !

    in fact, there are too many examples of the opposite: like, Thaksin’s 1mln loans to every village has instantly put middlemen and loan sharks out of biz, and therefore made them furious at him, which caused their lobbying their local politicians, who are deeply connected and involved with (or often ARE themselves) these powerful middlemen and brokers.
    another example, most recent: if you have followed the local news about “rice pledging scheme”, you might recall that recently there was a pressure on gov. (by Commerce minister – who is from BJT) to sell its stock to 17 high bidders, who are leading rice exporters. so, I remember clearly (can even quote if necessary – if you can’t find it yourself) it mentioned in the news that “exporters may sue gov. for breach of contracts”, because “ships are on stand by in the port” ready to take a load and transport rice to buyers, and failure to do so will cause a huge loss. however another interesting piece of that news was – that each of those high bidders has paid “under table” money to win those deals to …. politicians ! 😉

    so, can the government, which is practically merely a figurehead, be able to be strong enough to stand its ground and deny such decision? despite the clearly mentioned fact that it will suffer quite a huge finansial loss – because it has to sell its rice stock at much lower price than total combined expenses !

    even from the position of the most basic common sense, what sort of business is that: pledging high enough price to middlemen (because farmers can’t sell rice directly to gov. or buyers) to keep situation under control – to keep both farmers and “blood-suckers” appeased, then pay for all the expenses involved (transportation, storage, etc.) – and then again sell it to exporters (other “blood-suckers” ) lower than even the total cost price. and yet, due to the all those “in between” mark ups (first by brokers / middlemen, then second by exporters) – in the end Thai rice price is higher than rice of competitors on international market !

    so, WHO wins in this game ?! neither people (both farmers who are majority of population, and end-consumers in cities, who are although a minority – but they are driving force of economy and politics), nor the country as a whole (because its loses to competitors). the winners are those very “blood-suckers” (middlemen and exporters) who are the power-base of politicians and power-brokers.

    so, there is NO WAY for any real significant change to happen anytime soon with such a blatant state of affairs. it seems only too natural – to REMOVE all those “in between” and make the largest portion of population (farmers and workers – who also would benefit because would be able to buy cheaper “daily rice”) better off AND a whole country more prosperous in the end, because due to price reducing (no double of triple if not quadruple mark-up !) Thailand would be able to reclaim its former position as world’s top rice exporter – since its selling price will be much more competative.

    in reality though – as it was even in those time described by Pira Sudham, the unspoken rules and attitude of middlemen remains the same : “take it or leave it !”. merely last month I was reading on one of blogs on Nation one well educated woman writing her story of visiting friend-artist who moved to village to do farming. so, when she described his selling of the first harvest – she clearly mentioned that IN REALITY he got paid only 10′000 Baht per tonn – MUCH LESS than the price ensured by government ! and when she was outraged by that and asked him – why? – he replied that “that’s Ok”, because there are just too many complications and unexpected details when it comes too actual selling (I forgot what that was exactly – can find that blog if you want) or the whole process drags on and on forever, and therefore ultimately farmers prefer to get paid ASAP, because they have to pay back to lenders (aka loan sharks), buy seeds and fertilizaers etc.

    in the end – those “blood suckers” get even much more than obvious “mark up” ! and that leaves farmers in the never ending situation of barely being able to “meet the ends”: to pay the debts and to get the necessities. often even – just to get new loans.

    so, HOW and WHEN this will end, if ever at all ?

    of course there are solutions to solve this problem. some intelligent people (I also read this merely on the blogs – what to speak if someone really does research and professional study of issue) give ideas as :

    1) farmers cooperatives – when farmers unite locally, and mutually own the mills, storages etc – whatever is necessary to ensure the imposed standards. this would enable them to sell directly to government, buyers or even export – and therefore by-pass “blood-suckers” / middlemen, get better profits and share those profits among themselves for the further development;
    2) “contract farming”, a model where farmers are allowed to strike direct deals with foreign investors, who would bear all the expenses, take care of the supply (as fertilizers and equipment etc) and accordingly be able to buy rice directly from source – this way again farmers win, and country wins as whole – because will be ensured steady export in big volume. farmers continue to own their land – merely sort of “leasing it” and at the same time acting as sort of “employees” of contractor.
    3) government plays a major role as “in between”: owns the mills, storages, shipping fleet etc. and accordingly pays for all those stages of trade and buys directly from farmers. this may be not as good as the scenario where farmers are able / allowed to sell directly to end-buyer or export, since still there will be some unnecessary “in between” mark up. however it is still much better than current system which has double mark up, or most likely even triple.

    the 3rd option may be could be considered by some as sort of too “socialist” – centralised economy, government acting as the owner of all the facilities of trade – except “means of production”. therefore I am not so sure that it would be well acceptable – although it is still better than paying double and triple, and yet losing money only to fatten all the “blood-suckers” !

    there could be other options, probably even better than those 3 above mentioned.”

    Comment by antipadshist | June 8, 2009 | Reply

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