State okays extension of rice price scheme for 2021-22
The government has approved in principle the extension of the rice price guarantee scheme for the 2021-22 season, pledging to splurge 152 billion baht for the annual scheme operating for the third consecutive year.
Of the total spending plan approved yesterday by the National Rice Policy Committee, 89.4 billion baht will be slated for rice price insurance including expenses of state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, 54.97 billion baht to subsidise management and harvest costs, and 7.76 billion baht to subsidise interest rate, rice quality improvement and rice price stability.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha argued the budget is relatively high and ordered responsible agencies to reconsider a more appropriate budget and later propose it to the cabinet.
A source from the Government House who requested anonymity said the government is likely to shoulder more financial burden given the anticipated drop in rice prices because of higher supply and rice export slowdown.
Rachada Dhanadirek, a deputy government spokesman, said the insurance scheme will cover 4.69 million households who register with the Department of Agricultural Extension.
The scheme will run from Aug 1, this year to May 31, 2022.
Under the income guarantee plan, farmers receive the difference between insured rice prices and benchmark prices that change every two weeks in line with market prices.
The scheme covers five main types of rice: white rice paddy with 15% moisture, hom mali rice paddy, fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture, glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture, and provincial fragrant rice paddy.
Under the scheme, farmers are offered 10,000 baht a tonne for white rice paddy with 15% moisture, limited to 30 tonnes per family or 40 rai.
The guaranteed prices are set at 15,000 baht a tonne for hom mali rice paddy, limited to 14 tonnes per family or 40 rai; 11,000 baht a tonne for fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture, for up to 25 tonnes per family or 40 rai; 12,000 baht a tonne for glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture, with a limit of 16 tonnes or 40 rai; and 14,000 baht a tonne for a provincial fragrant rice paddy, with a limit of 16 tonnes per family or 40 rai.
In the 2021/22 season running from October this year to February next year, Thailand is expected to produce as much as 26 million tonnes of paddy, up 4% from the current season thanks to sufficient rainfall and higher plantation as Covid caused farm workers to return home and grow more rice.
Ms Rachada said the rice price stability plans will include special loans offered to farmers to delay selling their paddy, a grant to farmers to upgrade rice quality, and an interest rate subsidy for entrepreneurs who agree to keep rice in their stockpiles.
The government is aiming for 10.5 million tonnes of paddy to participate in the price stability plans scheduled to run from Sept 1 this year to April 30, 2022.
According to Ms Rachada, Gen Prayut also authorised related agencies to tackle export obstacles such as high freight rates and a shortage of liquidity among rice millers.
He also ordered related agencies to support rice farmers in the Northeast to grow additional crops and manage water supply to generate more income for the farmers in that region.