Department lines up remedies for hike in farm product prices
The Commerce Ministry's Internal Trade Department says it will introduce measures to alleviate the hardship of consumers who are likely to face rising prices for farm products due to this year's anticipated drought.
Director-general Whichai Phochanakij said the measures include offering specially discounted products through 102,000 Thong Fah (Blue Flag) low-priced shops nationwide.
According to Mr Whichai, drought is expected to bring about low supply of farm products, particularly hom mali fragrant paddy, white rice paddy, limes, fresh vegetables, pork and bottled cooking palm oil.
Paddy production for the second crop is forecast to fall by more than 50% in the 2019-20 season to 3.4-3.5 million tonnes, from 7.75 million tonnes the previous season, due to drought and inadequate water supply from dams.
Production from the main crop is forecast at 24 million tonnes of paddy, down 4-12.5% from 25-27 million tonnes the previous season.
Because of lower production, the prices of hom mali, white and glutinous paddy are likely to increase, Mr Whichai said.
Prices of hom mali paddy are now quoted at 14,000-15,000 baht per tonne, with glutinous paddy at 14,000 baht and white paddy at 8,000 baht.
Mr Whichai said the dry spell will not only affect the growth rate of pigs but endanger their lives as well.
In addition, widespread swine virus in China, Laos and Vietnam has drawn strong demand for imported pork, he said, adding that Thailand has shipped 6,000-8,000 pigs per day to the three countries.
Ex-farm prices are now quoted at 75 baht per kg.
Mr Whichai said the department has an agreement with a group of swine raisers that pork exports be limited to prevent any impact on domestic prices if pork prices exceed 80 baht per kg.
Vegetables and fruits that require large amounts of water, such as parsley and limes, could also see an impact.
The department is working with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to promote other crops that require less water.
"Although higher prices affect overall consumers, they are good for farmers," Mr Whichai said. "But we expect the impact to be short-lived and for prices to return to normal once the drought eases."