B1bn target for farmer support
The Industry Ministry plans to conclude the government's agriculture development plan in October, expecting to spend 1 billion baht to launch support measures for Thai farmers.
Pasu Loharjun, the industry permanent secretary, said the ministry is in talks with the Industrial Promotion Department and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives about launching measures early next year.
The expense of 1 billion baht will be part of the ministry's annual budget for fiscal 2020, which starts next month and totals 14 billion baht.
"The ministry is designing 2-3 models to support local farmers, improving their quality of life and increasing their household income," Mr Pasu said. "The food sector will be the main focus for the new scheme, which will develop models that use crops to manufacture processed food and help farmers garner higher margins from their planting."
The government has ordered the ministry to lead agriculture support projects, following the government's goal of building a nation of "smart farmers" under the Pracha Rat scheme.
Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE), said the processed food sector is the first priority for the government to provide help for farmers.
The country's agriculture sector contributes a significant portion of GDP.
Furthermore, the OIE plans to develop the processed food sector under the ministry's cluster scheme and seeks further collaboration with giant food companies such as CP Group.
"The ministry will invite companies to join the government's Big Brother scheme to share know-how and experience in doing business with local farm enterprises," Mr Nattapol said. "The ministry plans to add new incentives to support future investment in the agriculture development project."
Mr Pasu said the ministry is working on support measures for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and startups.
"In 2020, the ministry plans to create 6,400 new SMEs and startups, which are expected to contribute 1.05 billion baht to the country's economic value," he said.
The ministry signed agreements with two state financial institutions, the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank, to provide soft loans for SMEs and startups.