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Thai rice farmers poised to demonstrate in protest of rice price cut


08:17, June 25, 2013

BANGKOK, Jun 24 (Xinhua) -- Thai rice farmers will gather en masse outside Government House on Tuesday in protest of the government's decision to cut the rice price.

Led by the Thai Farmers Association and other rice-growing farmer groups, thousands of farmers have prepared themselves to demonstrate at Royal Plaza in the heart of the capital city and then proceed to spots outside Government House, barely a kilometer away, in protest of the planned reduction in the price of rice which government agencies have been purchasing under the much- heralded rice program from the farmers nationwide.

The farmers, most of whom coming from the rice-growing central and lower northern regions of the country, will very likely press the Yingluck Shinawatra government, scheduled to hold a weekly cabinet meeting at Government House, to change its mind about the controversial rice price on Tuesday.

Hundreds of the protesters already have arrived at Royal Plaza by bus on Monday while many more from the provinces are expected to join on Tuesday.

According to Wichian Puanglamcheak, leader of the farmers association, the protesters are calling on the government, headed by Lady Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to keep the rice price unchanged at 500 U.S. dollars a ton throughout the current extra- crop season which ends in September.

In particular, the preferred 500-dollars-a-ton price should be offered throughout the current crop season for rice farmers in the southern region, which ends in November, he said.

Citing "financial discipline" reasons coupled with sustained operational losses since the rice program set off in 2011, the Yingluck government decided last week to cut the rice price to 400 dollars a ton, effective from the end of this month.

"The government might begin to cut the rice price after the end of the current crop season, not during. As a matter of fact, the average cost of rice production by the farmer amounts up to 3 00 dollars a ton.

"But no farmers will indeed receive as much as 400 dollars a ton, due to eventual price cuts related to the humidity of their rice. We will definitely suffer a loss, if the government cuts the price that much,'' the farmers' leader said.

The more humid the rice becomes, the less price it will eventually bring to the farmer, he said.

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