Measures mulled to lift farm sector
THE MINISTRIES of Commerce and Agriculture and Cooperatives have laid out plans to boost the agricultural sector by employing a marketing-led strategy.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach and Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, as well as senior officials from the two ministries yesterday met and discussed ways to support the farm sector.
They agreed to work closely both in Bangkok and at the provincial level to boost the farm sector. The ministries also agreed to use a marketing-led strategy. Information on food nutrition and nuggets of local wisdom will be added to products in order to draw consumer attention.
Small farm producers would be urged to not just produce commodities such as paddy rice but to turn their commodities into high-value products, Sontirat said.
The two ministries will support farmers to connect their farms with the tourism industry in order to increase farmers’ incomes. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry will invest more in research and development in order to develop new strains of rice with increased nutritional value.
Sonthirat said the government would further promote organic farming and safe food products. Products developed by small producers would be distributed at the Commerce Ministry’s Thong Fah shops nationwide and a network created with modern retail trading as well as online trading.
Meanwhile, Apirom Sukprasert, president of the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), said the bank would accelerate its handing out of government farm subsidies to rice farmers for the production year 2017-18.
The Cabinet in September passed a resolution offering Bt1,200 per rai but not exceeding Bt12,000 for each farmer family. The government allocated a budget of Bt47 billion to support 3.9 million rice farmers. So far about 780,000 have received the financial support, Apirom said.
Apirom said most of them will get the money this month while farmers in the southern provinces would get the money in March as their harvesting season is different from that in other parts of the country.
The bank will also target to lend Bt21 billion to support farmers who delay their rice sales in order to address the lower price during the harvest season.
The government also gives each farmer household Bt1,500 per tonne of paddy rice to keep in their own storage.