Agency keen on fruit quality controls
published : 24 Mar 2023 at 07:00
newspaper section: Business
writer: Phusadee Arunmas
The Internal Trade Department is implementing 22 measures to manage fruit supply for this year's harvest, with production estimated to grow by 3% to 6.78 million tonnes.
Wattanasak Sur-iam, the department's director-general, said the higher output is attributed to cooler weather late last year and early this year.
He said the department remains concerned about the quality of fruit and held discussions on Thursday with the Agriculture Department about introducing stringent measures to control the quality of exports, especially durian.
The Internal Trade Department also wants to register at least 120,000 orchards for Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards this year.
Mr Wattanasak said this year the Commerce Ministry set a target for exports of fresh and processed fruit to reach 4.44 million tonnes, an increase of 10% both in quantity and value from 4.04 million tonnes worth 263 billion baht last year.
For the domestic market, the department has a project to encourage increased consumption of fruit within the country, while in foreign markets, high demand continues for durian in China.
The ministry also vows to tighten its measures to oversee fruit brokers and traders, helping to ensure fruit quality, he said.
Mr Wattanasak said this year the ministry would team up with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to implement 22 measures in four areas to manage fruit, covering plans for production, domestic marketing, foreign marketing, and legal issues.
The 22 measures include accelerating the inspection and certification of the GAP scheme, with a target of at least 120,000 orchard plots; using a contract farming model to pre-purchase 100,000 tonnes of fruit, including farmers and traders; helping entrepreneurs and farmers distribute their fruit products outside of production areas at a cost of 3 baht per kilogramme, totalling 90,000 tonnes; and supporting the use of mobile grocery stores to directly purchase and sell 30,000 tonnes of fruit during peak seasons.
He said the two ministries also plan to coordinate with department stores, convenience stores and gas stations to open areas for farmers to sell their fruit, totalling 100,000 tonnes.
Another project involves organising Thai fruit festivals at tourist attractions and supporting the free loading of 20kg of fruit onto flights, with a maximum of 42,000 tonnes, said Mr Wattanasak.
"Crop and farm product prices are higher this year than in 2022 for rice, cassava, maize and palm oil because of increased demand," he said.