Farmers want help when chemical ban hits

Farmers want help when chemical ban hits

Farming groups have proposed a rehabilitation and assistance scheme for farmers who may be affected by a ban on the use of three toxic farming chemicals that will come into effect on Dec 1.

About 100 members from 860 networks for sustainable farming on Tuesday converged at a press conference at Chulabhorn Research Institute on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, calling on the government to consider their proposal.

Their action plan includes import tax reductions for farming machinery, provision of rehabilitation funds and the enactment of a new law for sustainable farming.

Witoon Lianchamroon, director of the Biothai Foundation, who represented the groups, said the government must stand firm on banning paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.

Mr Witoon said both international and local studies have already confirmed the toxicity of the three chemical substances. He also refuted that claims that the ban will see sugar cane production cut in by half from 134 to 67 million tonnes.

The groups are asking the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to set up a rehabilitation fund to help farmers make the switch to alternative methods and another fund to support sustainable farming practices.

They also want a 0% import tariff for farming machinery. The current rate is at 5-20%.

Finally, they want to see a new law enacted pertaining to farm chemical use which is more relevant to the sector than the current hazardous substances act.

Tussanee Verakan of the Alternative Agriculture Network said the group also wanted to see the sustainable farming bill, which is now going through the Office of the Council of State, promulgated to strengthen good practices.

"We are now moving towards good farming practices with less chemical use. These measures will help us truly live up to our reputation as the 'Kitchen of the World'," she said.

Thailand has 150 million rai of farmland, of which 3.3 million rai is categorised as sustainable. If the national economic and social development plan is successful, that total will hit 5.5 million rai by 2021.

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