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Farmers in Thai North Protest Low Price for Sticky Rice
    2008-05-24 14:29:38     Xinhua
More than 1,000 farmers blocked a highway in Thailand's northernmost province Chiang Rai on Saturday, protesting the low price offered by local rice mills for glutinous paddy rice they grow.

Traffic on the highway in Chiang Rai's Phan district was disrupted as protesting farmers from villages parked their farm and pickup trucks and laid agricultural equipment on both sides of the highway, forcing vehicles to detour, according to a report by the Thai News Agency (TNA).

They charged that the government had guaranteed the price of sticky rice grain at 8,000 (about 250 U.S. dollars) per metric ton but rice millers were willing to offer only 6,040 baht (about 189 U.S. dollars) per ton for farmers.

The protesting farmers demanded the government to step in and enforced guaranteed prices as it had promised earlier.

A village chief, one of the key leading protesters, said farmers would continue their action until the government agrees to buy glutinous paddy rice from farmers at the guaranteed price. He also said the government must announce the locations where the sticky rice crop could be sold, according to the TNA report.

Earlier the Thai government had urged rice millers to buy paddy rice from farmers at a higher price. The millers had been reportedly reluctant to purchase paddy rice from farmers or offering a lower price due to large stocks in hand and fear of price fall.

The government said it would order banks to offer low-interest loan to rice millers who complained they faced a problem of cash flow in buying rice from farmers.

The government also promised to buy rice directly from farmers at a higher price to guarantee farmers' benefits.
 
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