Ministries to aid farmers in coping with the drought

Economy February 22, 2016 01:00

By The Nation

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The Commerce Ministry will work closely with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on measures to cope with this year’s drought to avoid problems with shortages of certain crops and weak commodity prices.

Commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said the ministry has instructed its offices nationwide to conduct field surveys on which crops planted by farmers will be affected by this year’s drought in terms of supply and prices as well as excess or shortages of certain crops.

This will help the ministry arrange appropriate assistance and technical advice for farmers to lessen the drought impact. Farmers are being urged to grow soybeans, green beans and other crops that require less water than rice.

The Commerce Ministry will meet with Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on Wednesday to assess the projected output of crops and fruits (eg durians, mangoes, longans and rambutans). Farmers who produce such crops/fruits will be helped with sales and distribution through farm/community outlets, central/border provinces/wholesale/retail markets and the organising of tropical fruits festivals nationwide at tourism venues and malls. The aim is to promote consumption of fruits and various processed fruit products, she said.

The fruits will gradually hit the markets, beginning with mangoes, rambutans, durians and longans in the eastern region. As for the southern and northern regions, such fruits will hit the markets this June-August.

The ministry will also push Thai fruit exports, especially to China where demand continues to increase for Thai mangoes, longans and durians, as well as look for other export markets. Thai fruit fair/exhibitions and promotion events at department stores overseas should also stimulate demand, Chutima said.

The ministry does not foresee a problem with weak prices for Thai fruits this year, as the drought has reduced output significantly Hence, prices should increase and this will benefit fruit growers and farmers, she added.