Thai farmers of freshwater prawns have been given a shot in the arm by the decision of UK-owned superstore chain to cut out the middleman and buy directly from the farmers.

Under an agreement to be signed shortly, will help farmers secure higher prices, said Newin Chidchob, a deputy commerce minister in the Thai government. Indeed, prices have already lifted in anticipation of the new buying arrangement. A kilogramme of freshwater prawns now goes for Bt150 (US$) at the farm gate, a Bt20 improvement on last week.

The agreement is expected to most advantage farmers in six provinces where the prawns are raised intensively. They are Suphan Buri, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ratchaburi, Ayutthaya and Nakhon Pathom.