October 27, 2008


Farmers' demands jack up Thailand corn prices



Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat has yielded to pressure and agreed to support a proposed price pledging scheme for corn after farmers in a province have blocked roads, isolating the area.


Nan governor Somsak Suwansutjarit said dialogue with the farmers has continued after it began blocking the three main roads into the province last week. Their action cut bus services, food and fuel supplies and led to rationing of diesel and petrol.


Mr Olarn, a non-MP (Mass Party) minister in the People Power party (PPP) quota who handles economic matters, had been in serious odds with some northern PPP MPs due to falling corn prices.


Boonsong Teriyapirom, a Chiang Mai MP, said Olarn and the politicians cleared the air during talks on Wednesday (October 22) evening.


The meeting came up after the northern MPs lambasted Olarn in parliament for failing to shore up corn prices and threatened to oust him. Led by Nan MP Cholnan Srikaew, the MPs threatened to pull out of the People Power party if Olarn could not guarantee a corn price of 8.50 baht per kilogramme.


Boonsong, who is also the prime minister's private secretary, said the government would settle a corn mortgage scheme based on a price of 8.20 to 8.50 baht per kg.


The proposed scheme would be put to the cabinet for approval this week, he said.


Sathaporn Maneerat, a People Power MP for Lamphun, said the group will not proceed with the threat to remove Olarn from power after the deputy prime minister agreed to attend to the problem.


Corn farmers in Nan's Na Noi district began to disperse on October 23 following reports the government would implement the price scheme.


Nan governor Somsak Suwansutjarit said the authorities would hold talks with the remaining protesters to persuade them to disperse.

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