By The Nation
Moving ahead now would help achieve Grisada’s goal of having rice farmers switch from off-season rice this year to instead grow corn for animal feed on two million rai of land in 33 target provinces.
He aims to reduce workplace risk to rice farmers and solve the issue of sagging agricultural product prices due to an oversupply that could drive many to call for government aid.
For this scheme to succeed, Grisada said farmers must have information about buying and selling prices and related conditions, as well as the demand for and supply of crops before starting the farming.
He said the government must also provide risk-reduction measures such as finding markets and buyers for farmers, with fair price offers, ahead of the harvest; providing insurance guaranteeing a minimum income to farmers or a fair purchasing price by the private sector; providing the crop insurance; and providing supports in term of information and capital/production factors.
The government has prepared four incentive measures. The first is a soft loan via the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to fund production and soil preparation at Bt2,000 per rai (for up to 15 rai per head), available for only 0.01 per cent interest per year. The second has the government facilitating the private sector in buying produce at or above a minimum price set by the Commerce Ministry. The third is an insurance scheme for which a farmer would pay Bt65 per rai in order to get Bt1,500 compensation per rai if a disaster ruins the crops. Finally, a policy that requires the BAAC to give a low-interest loan (at 1 per cent per year) to agricultural institutes to gather and buy corn.
Grisada said the provincial governors and district chiefs in target areas were collaborating with officials in planning operations to woo farmers to grow corn. Each province also has its own “war room” centre to see the scheme through.
Officials will be dispatched to target areas to inform the farmers about the scheme and its benefits, he said. Other teams of officials will coordinate with private companies in the area and centrally in order to set up produce-buying points, and to draw up related criteria and conditions for purchases and for futures contracts to ensure fairness and transparency for farmers, he said.
The Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary and related directors-general were also assigned to follow progress of scheme operations, said Grisada.