Thailand, the world's biggest rice exporter, is cracking down on foreign ownership of its farmland following reports of rich Middle East food importers snapping up vast tracts of land in poorer countries.
Palong Piroomyu, a 52-year-old farmer from Bang Len in Nakhon Pathom province, is preparing to sell his portion of farmland to a Bangkok-based buyer. He's not concerned about who the buyers are or that some may even be quietly representing foreigners.
Les étrangers volent-ils la terre des Thaïlandais ? Le débat enflamme l’ensemble de la presse locale. Malgré des lois strictes, qui font de la terre un bien national inaliénable, les fermiers thaïlandais s’estiment lésés.
The Department of Special Investigation will launch an inquiry into four Thai companies in Ayutthaya which own rice-farm plots of almost 10,000 rai. Transnational business consortiums are said to be buying the land through Thai nominees, which is against the law.
The Government of Thailand has uncovered evidence suggesting foreigners could have obtained illegal ownership of about 10,000 rai (1,600 ha) of farmland in the central region and employed farmers to grow crops there.
Thailand is poised to establish joint ventures with Gulf states to secure rice, processed agricultural products and food supplies for the oil-rich countries. But the government has reiterated that foreigners will not be allowed to invest in farming and livestock businesses in Thailand.