DEPUTY PRIME Minister Somkid Jatusripitak yesterday held discussions with officials from a range of agriculture-related agencies in a bid to set the direction for policies aimed at improving farmers’ livelihoods.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) had responded to Somkid’s request for an urgent meeting at which they sought ways to advance the agricultural sector in line with the guiding principles of the sufficiency economy philosophy espoused by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The key concern is that farmers must have additional ways to earn an income after a harvest season, Somkid said.
The MOAC will examine the list of farmers registered as low-income earners in an effort to find solutions at a household level, while the Commerce Ministry will assist these targeted farmers with the development of marketing strategies.
Somkid said the private sector - particularly those companies with export-oriented operations – would be encouraged to participate in efforts to counter the persistently low prices of certain commodities in the agriculture sector.
The agricultural sector has long been characterised by an insufficient level of information management.
However, Somkid said a committee would be established to create a central database for main crops such as rice, rubber, palm oil tapioca and fruit. The database would also enable producers to benefit from an early warning system of looming hazards for certain sectors.
Somkid reiterated that the government had only one more year remaining for its term and that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha urged everyone to commit themselves fully to the recovery in the grassroots economy.
In regard to low rubber prices, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach put forward three proposals.
The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports would raise their rubber usage from 30,000 tonnes to 50,000-80,000 tonnes, Grisada said.
Second, the Federation of Thai Industries would be asked to find private agencies to 100,000 tonnes of rubber. Lastly, the Rubber Authority of Thailand would buy rubber in the market with a target to boost the price to above farmers' costs on expectation to see positive results within three months.
Additionally, farmers may be trained in ways to raise product quality and further advance the sufficiency economy principles, Grisada said.
Luck Wajananawat, Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, looking at rice prices, said negotiations may be needed for a reduction in growing in inappropriate areas amid other efforts to limit production in line with market conditions.