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Thai military proposes new scheme to help rice producers

Published on Jun 18, 2014 5:13 PM

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand's ruling military will develop a scheme to help rice farmers cover costs, a top officer said on Wednesday, in place of a scandal-plagued and costly price support programme that helped drive the former prime minister from office.

Junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha last week had said the scheme of guaranteeing prices far above market levels would be scrapped, but had not indicated what would replace it.

The lack of a price subsidy will mark the first time in decades that the rice industry in Thailand, until recently the world's top exporter, will operate without direct state intervention.

On Wednesday, one of the generals in charge of the economy said a new scheme would offer soft loans to producers for fertiliser and other inputs and benefits for their families. "We've not mentioned anything about compensation or money to be given to farmers," General Chatchai Sarikalaya, a member of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), told reporters after a meeting of senior economic officials. "What we do plan is help to farmers to cut production costs and provide them with easier access to capital and soft loans."

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