A private university in Thailand has begun accepting rice in payment for tuition fees as the nation struggles under a grain glut that’s hurting farm incomes.
Students enrolled at Rangsit University in Bangkok’s northern suburbs can pay all or part of next semester’s costs with rice, said Worachat Churdchomjan, a dean who helped set up the program. The goal is to help farming families, and the university will put a higher-than-market value on the grain since prices for some strains are near a decade low, according to Worachat.
The university’s step is part of wider efforts to help the 16 million Thais who depend on rice farming but are struggling to cover costs because of oversupply at home and in export markets. While Thailand’s military rulers have unveiled more than $2 billion of support to ease agrarian hardship, farmers are also resorting to everything from sales via Facebook to using stalls at gas stations.
The state’s current rice stockpiles in Thailand are about 8 million metric tons — equivalent to roughly 20 percent of projected global trade of 40.6 million tons, based on Thai government and U.S. Department of Agriculture data.