Pension plan for rice farmers

The Rice Department plans a pension of about 4,000 baht per month for Thai rice growers after their retirement, on the condition they contribute to a rice development fund during their working years.

Charnpittaya Chimpalee, director-general of the department, said on Wednesday that the plans was to  set up a fund for the development of rice and rice growers to help the farmers financially, and the pension would be part of the assistance.

He said the 3.7 million rice-growing families could subscribe to the fund, that would be similar to the Social Security Fund. Members woud contribute three percent of their income to the fund, and the state would make an equal contribution.

After 15 years of contributions, or when participating farmers are 65 years old, the fund would start to pay a monthly pension to each member. The sum was initially set at 4,000 baht per month, Mr Charnpittaya said.

Besides, the fund would subsidise 20% of rice growers' production costs and provide loans for farmers to buy rice seed, with a three-year interest-free period.

Mr Charnpittaya said the Rice Department would propose the plan to the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives next week so that it could be forwarded to the National Council for Peace and Order, because the fund needed financial support and must be legalised.

Wichian Phuanglamjiak, president of the Thai Agriculturist Association, said the fund would be a dream come true for Thai rice farmers, as overseas rice growers enjoy welfare benefits from their government.

He said a monthly pension of 2,000 baht would probably satisfy most rice farmers.

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