Rice panel OKs B21bn for price guarantee scheme
The government has endorsed the price guarantee scheme for rice worth 21 billion baht, a move to help cushion farmers from falling rice prices.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the National Rice Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday approved the price guarantee scheme as proposed by the Commerce Ministry.
The scheme will cover five types of rice: white rice paddy with 15% moisture, Thai hom mali rice paddy, fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture, glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture, and provincial fragrant rice paddy.
After getting the green light from the committee, the proposal goes to the cabinet for approval on Aug 27.
The scheme is expected to assist 3.9 million families.
The rice price guarantee offers compensation if market prices fall below the benchmark.
Under the scheme, farmers will see the price of white rice paddy with 15% moisture guaranteed at 10,000 baht per tonne, but the guaranteed rice cannot exceed 30 tonnes per family or 40 rai.
The guaranteed prices are set at 15,000 baht a tonne for Thai hom mali rice paddy but are limited to 14 tonnes per family or 40 rai; those of fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture are set at 11,000 baht a tonne for a limit of 25 tonnes per family or 40 rai; those of glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture are set at 12,000 baht a tonne for a limit of 16 tonnes or 40 rai; and those of provincial fragrant rice paddy are set at 14,000 baht at tonne for a limit of 16 tonnes per family or 40 rai.
Mr Jurin said spending on the rice price insurance scheme excludes state subsidies for rice farmers' production costs during the 2019-20 main crop at 500 baht per rai offered in the government's stimulus package approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.
Suthep Kongmak, an adviser to the Thai Agriculturist Association, hailed the scheme but said the state budget may not reach 21 billion baht if the rice can fetch higher prices.
He urged the government to set aside a budget to subsidise farmers' production costs and water management needs.
Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the government also needs to introduce long-term measures to upgrade the rice industry.
He has talked to Mr Jurin, who agreed to implement medium- and long-term measures to develop varieties, cut production costs and enhance productivity.
Mr Charoen said the association is willing to team up with the ministry to revive old rice markets such as Iraq and Iran that stopped buying Thai rice in recent years.
The marketing plan will also target Japan and China.