Rice relief gets cabinet go-ahead
The cabinet on Tuesday approved rice aid measures worth a combined 97.95 billion baht for the 2018-19 crop year.
The measures include a loan scheme worth 35.06 billion baht to be offered by the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) and 62.89 billion baht of one-off payments that the government will hand out directly to farmers via the BAAC.
According to Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the Prime Minister's Office Minister, the measures will 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 agriculture co-operatives to gather rice and created added value; and the 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to store stocks.
These programmes will run from September this year to September 2019, in all provinces, except for the South. The programmes for the South will run from June to October 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 22.56 billion baht, and the loan scheme for farming institutes to gather rice and add value to rice will cost 12.5 billion.
The 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to hold stocks for 60-180 days is estimated to cost the government 572 million baht.
According to Mr Nathporn, 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 grant 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 17,050 baht per tonne for hom mali fragrant rice, 15,450 baht per tonne for glutinous rice, 12,000 baht per tonne of white rice and 12,900 baht per tonne of Pathum Thani fragrant rice, if they agree to hold their paddy under the barn-pledging scheme.
In a related development, the cabinet yesterday endorsed the Commerce Ministry's ministerial regulation to allow the use of 58 varieties of high-value trees such as teak and Siamese and Burmese rosewood, to be used as collateral under the Secured Transactions Act.
The new regulation could encourage people to grow more high-value trees on their land for income.