FTI plans farm support model
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) plans to launch a new business platform to help local rice farmers increase agricultural prices and household incomes.
Smai Leesakul, vice-chairman of the FTI, said it will support farmers via the platform, which was designed by the FTI and agriculture firms. The platform includes a marketing channel and business management to help educate farmers.
"Rice farmers make up the majority of the country's agriculture sector, but they face many barriers to being competitive, such as insufficient funds, limited competency and a lack of competitive products," Mr Smai said. "The FTI wants to support them to increase their revenue."
The business platform, called the Bamnet Narong model, is a pilot project from that district in Chaiyaphum province. The area has a potash mine owned by Asean Potash Chaiyaphum Plc that supplies the largest fertiliser plant in Thailand. The government wants the company to support the local agriculture sector.
The FTI expects to increase rice prices by creating value-added products and upgrading product quality to strengthen both domestic and overseas markets.
"We will team up to improve productivity and household incomes, and we think farmers in Chaiyaphum will be successful through this platform," Mr Smai said.
The agriculture sector represents 8-10% of the country's GDP.
The potash mine in Chaiyaphum is on a 9,700-rai plot and has a potash reserve of 430 million tonnes, but the project has faced strong opposition from villagers and non-governmental organisations and activists for more than 20 years.
The potash mine expects to produce 300,000 tonnes of potassium fertiliser in 2018, increasing to 800,000 tonnes in 2019 and reaching full capacity of 1.1 million tonnes in 2020.
Moreover, the FTI has talked to banks in Chaiyaphum such as the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to provide farmers with loans for the project.
"The FTI has taken action to brainstorm about how to help local farmers in Thailand to increase income," he said. "The FTI hopes the government will support this project."