Agriculture Ministry tells Mae Sod Clean Energy to revise contracts with cane farmers

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will ask  Mae Sod Clean Energy company to revise its contracts with sugarcane farmers in Tak’s Phop Phra district to correspond with the new contract farming law to ensure fairness for farmers.

Move by the ministry came after cane farmers entering agreements with the company under the contract farming cultivation were indebted heavily with the ethanol manufacturing company, and fell into legal dispute over debts.

According to the ministry, 53 cane farmers had lodged complaints with Phop Phra district police, saying that back in 2008, they were made to sign contract pledging to supply sugarcane to Mae Sod Clean Energy Company.

But later on, they learned that the contract they signed also included an acknowledgement of debt and each of them turned out to be the company’s debtors.

Farmers complained that they were deceived and unfairly treated by the company, resulting them into over 1.3  billion baht debt altogether with the company.

Yesterday (Feb 8), officials from the ministry’s Office of the Contract Farming Promotion and Development Commission visited affected cane farmers on a fact finding mission in Phop Phra district.

Office chief Opas Thieng-ngamdee said after the inspection, he found that the area was not suitable for sugar cane cultivation.

Therefore when farmers entered agreements with the company, they were in high risk of inability to supply sugar canes to the company.

He said officials would give advice to farmers to substitute canes with other crops instead.

He said he also met the company’s manager who explained that all debts were incurred by farmers from their failure to supply sugarcanes to the company. The debts also came from farmers’ purchase of fertilizer and pesticide and land and farm machines rental fees over the past several years.

He said a total of 1,200 farmers signed pledging contracts with the company but only 53 were in legal dispute. But four have been settled, with the remaining 49 under talks.

Mr Opas then asked the manager to increase more channels to settle disputes with the farmers, and to revise the current contracts to correspond with the new contract farming law which became effective last year.