More farmers on the way to Bangkok

RATCHABURI - About 200 farmers in Pak Tho district have left the central province to join other rice growers rallying for pledging scheme payments at the Commerce Ministry in Nonthaburi.

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Somsak Thanningam, a Ban Nong Rai village chief and farmer leader, said on Tuesday that he and his neighbours, who came on four buses, would camp out at the ministry until the caretaker government pays for their pledged rice. ''We have no money to prepare for the second crop. Our paddy fields are fallow,'' he said.

Hundreds of farmers have been camping out at the ministry since Thursday to press for rice payments. demanded talks with caretaker Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, other cabinet ministers and officials on Monday stalled when the government instead sent out officials who could not make decisions on payments.

The farmers' rally has added to the pressure on the embattled caretaker government, which already faces  months-long demonstrations led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee.

National Security Council chief Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut admitted on Tuesday security authorities were apprehensive  the  farmers might join the anti-government group's protest.

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