PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said he was pleased with the Royal Ploughing Ceremony’s forecast for prosperity but urged the public to understand the government’s slow and steady approach for sustainable results in national development.
Wishing farmers success, he also advised them to prepare for risks such as flooding and drought and adjust their farming according to water supply for timely harvests.
With farmers using the auspicious occasion to begin ploughing, sowing rice seeds or planting paddies in hope of a healthy harvest, many are urging the government to keep rice prices buoyant and control the cost of fertiliser.
In Tambon Bang Decha of Prachin Buri’s Muang district, 53-year-old Sawek Norasing said he and his relatives were sowing seeds on the family’s inherited 40-rai rice field. Sawek said he hoped the new government after the upcoming election would hike the rice price to at least Bt9,000 per tonne – compared to the current rate of Bt6,000-Bt7,000 per tonne. He said farmers were burdened with high production costs of Bt7,000-Bt10,000 per tonne for rice seeds and expensive fertiliser, among other things.
Farmer Wanthana Kwanyoo, 46, called for the Prayut administration’s
aid in raising the rice price to Bt9,000 per tonne and controlling the price for fertiliser and agro-chemicals.
In Buri Ram’s Muang district, Tambon Bua Thong farmer Khampin Phongpan, 59, said a price of Bt16,000 per tonne or Bt16 per kilo was necessary to secure farmers’ livelihoods. “Even with the abundant harvests, farmers are still in trouble if the rice price is low,” he said.
In Uttaradit’s Laplae district, agricultural workers performed a ritual to apologise to Mother Earth and the Goddess of Rice before beginning their season. Farmer Somboon Maneejamnong said the ritual was important to the “country’s backbone” – rice farmers – as it would bring about good harvests with crops that fetch a high price.
In Phichit’s Pho Prathap Chang district, farmers planted rice paddies to save water and time – rice seedlings reach maturity for harvesting 20 days faster than do rice seeds.