Cabinet allots B87bn in rice aid measures

Cabinet allots B87bn in rice aid measures

Cash handouts to delay, store paddy

Farmers in Kalasin province unload paddy rice at a milling plant. YONGYUTH PHUPUANGPHET
Farmers in Kalasin province unload paddy rice at a milling plant. YONGYUTH PHUPUANGPHET

The cabinet yesterday approved a combined 87.2 billion baht worth of measures to ensure farmer income and stabilise rice prices ahead of the annual harvest for the 2017-18 season, starting in November.

The measures include 33.5 billion baht in loans extended by the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to farmers who agree to delay selling their paddy in the market, and 53.7 billion in cash handouts to farmers who store their paddy in barns for a designated period as well as grants for those making harvesting and rice-quality improvements.

The 87.2 billion baht is expected to help 3.7 million households and will span the seasonal harvest from this November to Feb 28, 2018.

Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the Prime Minister's Office Minister Suvit Maesincee, said under the lending programme operated by the BAAC, which offers credits based on average rice prices for the past three years, 10,800 baht a tonne will be offered for hom mali and glutinous paddy, 7,200 baht a tonne is slated for white-rice paddy and 8,500 baht a tonne will be given for Pathum Thani fragrant paddy.

The lending scheme is scheduled to run from Nov 1 this year to Feb 28, 2018. It is expected to help delay about 2 million tonnes of paddy sales during the harvest season.

Participating farmers who agree to keep their paddy at their barns will get 1,500 baht a tonne. The project will run between Nov 1, 2017 and Dec 30, 2018.

All rice farmers will be granted 1,200 per rai for harvesting and rice-quality improvement costs, but not more than 12,000 baht per family. This project will be implemented between Sept 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018.

The government expects to delay some 12.5 million tonnes of paddy from being released to the market during harvest season.

Mr Nathporn said the government is also committed to providing loans to promote agricultural cooperatives to increase the value of paddy worth 12.5 billion baht, with a target of 2.5 million tonnes. Under the project, cooperatives will be offered a subsidy for an interest rate of 3%, while the cooperatives themselves take a 1% interest rate. The project will be implemented between Oct 1, 2017 and Sept 30, 2018.

The government will also offer soft loans worth 940 million baht for rice traders who help stockpile paddy in warehouses for two to six months.

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