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Thai farmers cause blackout in Ministry of Trade during protest rally

March 12, 2014, 11:43 UTC+3
Because of this action, electronic auctions to sell 240,000 tonnes of rice from state warehouses were sabotaged
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Thai rice farmers during protests in Bangkok

Thai rice farmers during protests in Bangkok

© EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

BANGKOK, March 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Rice producers participating in anti-government protest rally in the Thai capital have caused a blackout in the Trade Ministry headquarters, MCOT news agency reported on Wednesday.

Because of this action, electronic auctions to sell 240,000 tonnes of rice from state warehouses were sabotaged. All the money from the auction was supposed to be paid to farmers, since the state owes over $4.4 billion to them.

In February, the Thai government managed to negotiate with an initiative group of farmers a schedule for paying debts in order to avoid mass protests in Bangkok, where thousands of farmers were ready to go to demand their money to be paid immediately. Meanwhile, not all the farmers agreed to wait. According to MCOT news agency, protesters near the Trade Ministry headquarters prepare to spill on the ground about 10 tonnes of rice.

In 2011, Thai government headed by Yingluck Shinawatra introduced the system of state collateral rice purchase from farmers at rates that significantly exceed market prices. Thailand is one of the global leaders in rice production, and such methods of regulation in agriculture, economists believe, have led to major losses for the country. In late 2013, the Thai government stopped paying to farmers due to lack of funds. All government’s attempts to get a credit even in the state bank of Thailand were derailed by oppositionists that strived for the resignation of Yingluck Shinawatra. To square accounts with the farmers, the Thai government decided to sell the available rice stocks at below-market prices.

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