B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved

B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved

Farmers and residents in Sangkha district, Surin help harvest paddy. NOPPARAT KINGKAEW
Farmers and residents in Sangkha district, Surin help harvest paddy. NOPPARAT KINGKAEW

The National Rice Policy and Management Committee Wednesday approved rice aid measures worth 34.5 billion baht for the 2018/2019 crop year starting in November.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the commerce permanent secretary, said the rice measures, mostly identical to those offered for production in the 2017/2018 crop year, cover three projects: a loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales and a grant for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs; a loan scheme for agricultural cooperatives to gather rice and add value to the grain; and the 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to keep their stocks.

These programmes will run from late October to March, except in the southern provinces because of their late supply. The programmes for the South will run until June and July of 2019.

The loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales and the grant for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs will cost an estimated 22 billion baht, and the loan scheme for farming institutes to gather rice and add values to rice will cost 12.5 billion.

The subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to keep their stocks is yet to be estimated.

Those projects are expected to delay selling 9.5 million tonnes of rice -- higher than 6.4 million tonnes last year.

The measure aims to curb and delay a flood of rice supply onto the market, particularly during the main harvest season, said Mrs Nuntawan.

Under the loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales and the grant for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs, the government will give a grant of 1,500 baht per rai for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs, capped at 18,000 per family and not more than 12 rai.

That is up from 1,200 baht per rai, capped at 15,000 baht per family on not more than 10 rai per family in the previous season. Eligible farmers are small-scale ones who have registered with the Agriculture Extension Department.

Farmers are also entitled to earn 11,800 baht per tonne for hom mali rice, 10,200 a tonne for glutinous rice, 7,500 a tonne of white rice and 8900 per tonne for Pathum Thani fragrant rice, if they agree to hold their paddy at their rice barns under the so-called barn pledging scheme.

The committee also approved 250 million baht worth of lending for farmers from the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to build their own barns, with 150,000 each for individuals and 3 million for each agricultural cooperative, and an annual interest rate of 1%.

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