Why It Matters: Farmers across various provinces in Thailand have fallen victim to a deceptive scheme involving cannabis cultivation, shedding light on the need for proper guidance and support in the agricultural sector.
Key Quote: According to Siam News, “The farmers were promised high returns from a well-known beer company, only to be left with low-quality seeds and broken promises.”
What They’re Saying: The farmers are now united, seeking justice and demanding accountability from those responsible for their plight.
Nonthaburi, Thailand – On October 30, 2023, a group of around 10 farmers from various provinces gathered at the Khu Jai Law Office in Bang Talat, Pak Kret, Nonthaburi, to file a complaint and seek justice. They represented over 100 farmers who were unable to attend due to travel constraints. The farmers sought assistance from Mr. Ronnarong Kaewpetch, the president of the Network for the Campaign for Justice in Society, as they had been deceived by a well-known political figure from the Move Forward Party.
The political figure had traveled across provinces, encouraging farmers to cultivate cannabis, promising them that they could sell the flowers to the well-known beer company, Heineken, for substantial profits. Many farmers, believing in the potential for high returns, invested significant amounts of money, ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions of Baht. However, they were left with low-quality seeds that did not produce the promised yields, and the political figure later claimed that their crops did not meet the required specifications and were of low quality, refusing to buy them back.
Mr. Wichian Saemthong, a 40-year-old farmer from Kalasin Province, and a representative of the group, shared his experience. He was contacted by an official from a certain company, linked to Mr. Thanapakorn Siri, the brother of Mr. Nattakan Siri, a former candidate of the Move Forward Party for the Sai Mai District. Mr. Wichian was persuaded to buy two types of cannabis seeds: “Bud Dream” at 450 Baht per pack and “California” at 650 Baht per pack. They were promised that if the cannabis produced flowers, they could sell them for 130,000 Baht per kilogram. However, when it was time to sell, they were only offered 30,000 Baht per kilogram, with the excuse that the quality was not up to par. This resulted in a loss of 1.3 million Baht for Mr. Wichian.
Ms. Sangtawan Chuachem, a 60-year-old farmer from Sukhothai Province, invested in planting cannabis over 6 acres of land, buying 4,800 cannabis plants. However, the plants did not produce flowers as promised, resulting in a loss of over 12 million Baht and leaving her in debt. Similarly, Mr. Pongspat Sokhu, a 58-year-old farmer from Suphan Buri Province, invested in building two large greenhouses in 2022, planting 1,600 cannabis plants. Like the others, he was left with low-quality plants that did not produce flowers, resulting in a 4 million Baht loss.
The last case mentioned was Ms. Srikhiri Thepsuthin, a 74-year-old farmer from Sukhothai Province and the aunt of Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the Deputy Prime Minister. She planted over 400 cannabis plants in 2022 and 2023, only to find that the seeds bought from the mentioned company did not produce flowers, resulting in a loss of over 900,000 Baht. Before investing in cannabis cultivation, she had informed Mr. Somsak, who had warned her to be cautious and skeptical of schemes promising high returns.
Mr. Ronnarong Kaewpetch emphasized the importance of investigating the company that initiated the scheme and whether it had any genuine contact with Heineken. If not, this could be considered fraud, and legal actions could be taken against both the individuals and the entities involved. He urged those who had been deceived to come forward and file complaints to protect their rights.
The farmers are now preparing to submit their complaints and seek justice at the Prime Minister’s Office, with the support of Mr. Ronnarong and his network.
Source: Siam News