By THE NATION
The Cooperatives Promotion Department will next year impose two protocols for food standards on livestock and crop farmers to prepare them for production upgrades demanded by key importers including China.
Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) will become mandatory, Director-general Phichet Wiriyapaha said on Friday, noting that most large-scale retailers in China sell only products thus certified.
Other policies Phichet unveiled for next year included storing agricultural produce at the department’s 824 provincial and district offices for up to three years.
Produce standards must be upgraded to increase farmers’ bargaining power with buyers, he said, and traditional or environmentally friendly croplands and livestock ranches will be assessed for their potential as tourist attractions as part of an Industry Ministry project.
Phichet said there are 8,097 cooperatives across the country, 4,547 of which are associated with agriculture involving 6.7 million people. Nearly 1,600 cooperatives buy or guarantee the quality of 5.5 tonnes of farm products each year.
Another 55 agriculture-related cooperatives directly export products to 28 countries, generating a combined Bt1.888 billion from the sale of 45,869 tonnes annually, he said.