28m rai of farmland insured
Almost 28 million rai of rice farmland operated by 1.91 million farmers is insured for the 2018 crop year, while only 6% of the insured areas claimed compensation last year, says the chief of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).
To be qualified for insurance claims in case of crop damage, insurers must also sign up as rice growers at the Agricultural Extension Department, said BAAC president Apirom Sukprasert.
The cabinet in April approved a rice insurance scheme for the 2018 season worth 1.84 billion baht for 29 million rai of rice fields. The scheme, run by the BAAC, covers six natural disasters: floods, drought, storms, cold, hail and fires.
Registration for crop insurance in other parts of the country in the 2018 season lapsed at the end of June, while registration for the South will end on Dec 15.
Under the scheme, farmers receive compensation of 1,260 baht per rai for crops damaged by natural disasters. They can further secure 630 baht per rai for damage caused by pests and diseases. The scheme charges an insurance premium of 90 baht per rai, of which 54 baht is shouldered by the government, while the BAAC pays the remainder only for the bank's customers. Non-BAAC customers must cover the rest if they have taken out rice insurance.
In the 2017 harvest season, 1.75 million rice growers with 26.1 million rai of farmland were insured with a combined insured sum of 2.53 billion baht. The insured areas of farmland represent 87% of the 30 million rai target and about 45% of the country's total rice fields.
Some 196,300 rice farmers with 1.64 million rai of insured rice fields, representing 6% of the insured areas of farmland, received insurance claims worth 2.07 billion baht for the last crop season.
Even though the rice insurance compensation has increased this year and the government is contributing another 1,111 baht per rai to farmland in areas that have been declared disaster zones, the combined compensation is still far lower than the average production cost of 4,000 baht per rai.
Crop insurance in Thailand is limited to rice only, but BAAC recently said that it planned to introduce the country's first dairy cattle insurance scheme in August, in a push to extend coverage to other farm products and alleviate the government's burden in paying out compensation.