Northeast rice farmers gain subsidy to ease harvest costs

Economy October 17, 2017 01:00

By THE NATION

THE THAI Rice Exporters Association will subsidise Northeastern farmers at Bt200 per rai for no more than 10 rai each in an effort to help reduce harvest costs.



The initiative comes as Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn stuck to the ministry’s target of 11 million tonnes of rice exports this year, after the nine-month figure came in at 8.97 million tonnes.

Apiradi said the association would launch its relief measure of the Bt200-per-rai subsidy for about 5,363 Northeastern farmer in 12 provinces, costing Bt9.17 million. 

The provinces covered are: Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Phanom, Roi Et, Surin, Nakhon Ratchasima, Maha Sarakham, Buri Ram, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani, Kalasin and Si Sa Ket.

The initiative arose from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and the association joining forces for the Pracha Rat project with the goal of reducing rice production costs.

The subsidy will be trans-ferred to each farmer through the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) directly. 

Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said that, given the different demands of farmers in each area, the subsidy would be given directly to them through BAAC next week under the pilot project for this year.

“We've discussed with the MOC several times and agreed that the direct subsidy would be the right solution. The farmers will receive the money to reduce their harvest costs and this is our first pilot project," he said.

Suthep Kongmak, president of the Thai Agriculturist Association, had said earlier that Thai Rice Exporters Association had set aside a budget of Bt20 million for direct relief measures for farmers with a previously targeted area of 100,000 rai.

The association screened its members so as to give priority to those who had not participated in a big farming project and, as a result, there would be about 5,000 farmers to take part in the subsidy project for the 50,000-rai criteria, Suthep said.

In regard to this year's rice export target, the MOC reiterated its targeted volume of 11 million tonnes, given continued global demand for Thai rice, Apiradi said.

From January 1 to October 11, Thai rice exports climbed 25.28 per cent year on year to 8.97 million tonnes worth Bt132 billion. The export value also rose, by 17.41 per cent.

White rice exports topped the list with 3.91 million tonnes, accounting for 43.61 per cent of the total Thai rice exported. Parboiled rice followed at 2.65 million tonnes with a 29.59 |per cent share and Thai Hom |Mali rice at 1.68 million tonnes with a 18.73 per cent share.

Charoen also agreed on the ministry's rice export target |for 2017, while expecting Thai |rice production to increase |about 10 per cent for the 2017-18 season. 

Both in-season and off-season rice production is expected at 32 million tonnes of paddy rice for the season. Thai Hom Mali rice's export price is expected at US$750-$800 a tonne. White rice's export price is hovering around $375 a tonne and parboiled rice $385 a tonne.

Apiradi said that the rice in the government's stocks has not yet been sold but the ministry is monitoring the situation. “If there's market demand, there could be a rice sale from the stock. We have to check on the situation periodically,” the minister said.