Farmers paid after BAAC 'rice dump'

A group of disgruntled rice farmers unloaded more than 20 tonnes of paddy at the headquarters of Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative (BAAC) on Tuesday, eliciting an unexpected 192,000 baht payment from the bank.

The farmers, led by protest monk Luang Pu Buddha Issara, arrived at the bank on Tuesday afternoon. Luang Pu said the farmers all held pledging tickets and wanted the bank to pay them for their produce.

Suwat Eiewchai, assistant manager at the BAAC, met the farmers and informed them that the bank had set up three funds to help cash-strapped farmers, currently holding more than 600 million baht. Mr Suwat said the bank would try to distribute the money to farmers who had not yet received payment for pledged grains.

He added that the Foreign Trade Department was speeding up sales of rice stockpiles and would likely deliver one billion baht to the bank in the near future.

Mr Suwat then agreed to pay for the rice unloaded outside the BAAC at a rate of 8,000 baht a tonne, meaning that the farmers were given 192,000 baht for the 24 tonnes of paddy transported to the bank's HQ on two 10-wheel trucks.

Prior to coming to the bank, Luang Pu led farmers to the Department of Agricultural Extension situated inside Kasetsart University on Phahon Yothin Road.

Luang Pu said the department was hosting a meeting about rice-related businesses and farmers on Tuesday, but growers were not actually invited to attend. He said his group decided to visit the department to seek the opportunity to contribute their ideas and help draft an appropriate plan to assist farmers.

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