Dept readies farmer support guidelines for govt

Dept readies farmer support guidelines for govt

The Internal Trade department is preparing guidelines for the income guarantee scheme for four crops -- rice, maize, oil palm and cassava -- to submit to the government.

Director-general Whichai Phochanakij said the department will hand its proposal to the new commerce minister, expected to be Jurin Laksanavisit, leader of the Democrat Party, which advocated income guarantees as part of its election manifesto.

The guidelines will cover the reference price calculation method, the registration process and budget allocation.

The department will also propose criteria governing which farmers are entitled to receive the support.

The assistance should be limited to those farmers that actually need help to prevent the scheme from becoming a financial black hole for the government, he said. However, specifics regarding the areas of land and quantities of crops covered by the programme may be changed by the government depending on economic circumstances, he added.

"Currently, many agricultural products don't need price support measures or income guarantee because they are fetching good market prices. For example, paddy rice, sticky rice and Thai Hom Mali paddy rice, as well as maize which is at 8 baht per kilogramme right now, need no assistance," said Mr Whichai.

The government would create a mechanism whereby it could step in to support farmers if prices suffered a sharp fall, he added. However, Mr Whichai expressed concern over palm oil.

Though the price of fresh nuts rose nearly 4 baht per kilogramme with crude palm oil now at 20 baht per kilogramme, uncertainty remains due to decreasing global demand, he said. Cassava was also a worry, as a disease had hit the crop.

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