By Pracha Hariraksapitak
BANGKOK, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Thailand’s cabinet approved measures worth about 40 billion baht ($1.13 billion) to help rice farmers, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
The government gave the green light to three measures to help rice farmers prepare for the next harvest, including credits and an interest rate reduction for farmers, Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a government spokesman, told Reuters.
An interest rate cut by state-owned Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) for one million families, steps to help co-operatives and communities collect rice from markets, and grants for farmers in the country’s north and northeast were among the measures approved, said Sansern.
The measures come after growing criticism levelled at the military regime from rice andrubber farmers who have seen their income fall following the end of the subsidy schemes, introduced by an ousted civilian government, that funnelled billions of dollars to agricultural communities.
The military government that took power after a 2014 coup slashed rural subsidies saying itwanted to wean farmers, who make up a large percentage of Thailand’s 67 million population, off expensive schemes used by previous administrations.
It has acknowledged in recent months that weak exports and low global commodity prices have hurt rural income.
Somkid Jatusripitak, a deputy prime minister, told Reuters last month that he would prioritise reviving the rural economy.
Last year the military government offered rice and rubber farmers a direct subsidy of 1,000 baht ($28.18) per rai (0.17 hectares), capped at 15,000 baht.
($1 = 35.4900 baht)
(Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Orathai Sriring; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Simon Cameron-Moore)