Isan farmers turn to growing maize
The Royal Initiative Discovery Institute is supporting about 2,000 rice growers in three northeastern provinces to grow maize following their rice harvest, in a pilot project aimed at helping them supplement their income in the coming dry season.
Maize is used as a primary grain in cattle feed production. Prices are rising due to a shortage in the global supply of grain linked to the Russia-Ukraine war, said Grisada Boonrach, chairman of the institute.
Currently, Thailand can produce only about 4 million tonnes of maize per year, while actual demand is more than 8 million tonnes a year, he said.
Normally rice farmers continue growing off-season rice in the dry season immediately after they have harvested their seasonal crop, a practice that usually comes with a high risk of water shortages and damage to the new crop, he said.
Unlike growing off-season rice, growing maize in the dry season will offer a better opportunity to succeed as growing maize requires less water than rice, he said.
In this pilot phase, the institute is working together with rice growers in Kalasin, Khon Kaen, and Udon Thani as well as with organisations under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, he said.
The only private partner in this project at this early stage is Charoen Pokphand Produce (CPP) Co which has agreed to provide financial support to rice growers without interest, and promise to buy the product at a guaranteed price of 8.50 baht per kilogramme.
A total of 2,296 farmers have applied, he said.