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Farm produce exports suffering, domestic demand eyed

Feb 26. 2020
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By The Nation

The COVID-19 virus will cost Thai exporters of farm produce more than Bt5 billion in the first half of the year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives declared on Wednesday (February 26).

Alongkorn Ponlaboot, an adviser to the minister, said the number of foreigners visiting Thailand is expected to drop by two million for January-March and by 4.37 million for the first half if the virus’ global spread isn’t halted before June.

Overseas demand for Thai farm produce has also decreased, especially vegetables and fruit, he said.

“The ministry forecasts that the export value of agricultural products shipped to China from January through March will drop by 0.33 per cent from last year’s sales of Bt940 million,” Alongkorn said.

“If the situation is prolonged until June, the value will drop by 2 per cent from last year’s Bt5.278 billion because that takes us into harvest time for durian and mangosteen, and half of our durian goes to China.”

The ministry will try to offset the impact by promoting domestic consumption, he said. It will work with farm cooperatives to get the fruit to local entrepreneurs and members of cooperatives, both offline and online, to increase demand.

“We believe this will solve the problem of decreased exports and help farmers get through this situation,” Alongkorn said.

Annual production generally runs like this:

• EAST: Mangosteen, rambutan, durian and langsat harvested April to June, mainly in June

• NORTH: Lychee goes to market in May and June and longan in July and August

• SOUTH: Mangosteen, rambutan, durian and langsat yields in July and August, most towards the end of August

“The fruit board has approved management guidelines that emphasise the need to get up-to-date product information to authorities in each province so they connect with buyers and are able to manage the marketing themselves,” Alongkorn said.

“The ministry also has a policy on fruit-market management through the cooperatives system that focuses on balancing supply and demand with an eye to raising quality and the prices paid to farmers.”

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