Consensus on need to support farmers
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Consensus on need to support farmers

There is broad political agreement on the importance of sustainable farming, food safety and security, and the need to tackle poverty among farmers, an 11-party forum on agriculture and food security agreed recently.

Support for organic farming, technological innovation and upgrading the industry to meet international standards, as well as tackling land ownership disparity, were among policies floated at the event.

It was organised by the National Farmers Council, Biodiversity, Sustainable Agriculture, and Food Sovereignty Action Thailand (the BioThai Foundation), Chulalongkorn University's Social Research Institute and their partners.

Decharut Sukkumnoed, director of the Move Forward Party (MFP)'s Think Forward Centre, said the government's subsidy schemes should be revamped as they have failed to improve farmers' livelihoods.

"The farm sector needs restructuring and a fresh workforce of young farmers to supplement ageing farmers and upgrade production of agricultural products," he said.

The MFP would increase the land rights fund from 300 million baht to 10 billion baht in four years and has pledged to give away Sor Por Kor land to landless farmers, he added.

Meanwhile, the Bhumjaithai Party would halve the use of chemical fertiliser while boosting organic farming areas 200% over the course of four years to promote food safety and security.

Supachai Jaisamut, Bhumjaithai's registrar, said tax measures on harmful chemical substances will be considered to discourage their use as well as a ban on and commercial advertisements of chemical-laden products.

The party also plans to provide financial assistance to the organic farming sector, promote green markets nationwide and elevate food safety standards, he said.

Democrat Party deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot said the party's 26-point agricultural policy has been crafted to raise farmers' incomes and support Thailand's potential to lead food exports.

The party plans to promote sustainable farming through increasing organic farming areas and protecting biodiversity, he said.

The Chartthaipattana Party said its agricultural policy is based on the New-Theory Agriculture principle and it will allocate a larger budget to support development in the sector.

The country has put too much emphasis on the transport sector, to the detriment of the agricultural sector, said party director Nikorn Chamnong.

Atavit Suwanpakdee, deputy leader of the Chartpattanakla Party, touted a plan to establish a farmers' cooperative similar to the New Zealand-based Fonterra, a global dairy nutrition company owned by 10,500 New Zealand farmers and their families.

He said the party will also promote the use of digital management to help farmers better deal with farming.

Pheu Thai plans to issue land deeds covering 50 million rai and encourage rice farmers to switch to maize and soy beans while the Palang Pracharath Party will seek to reduce costs, raise productivity and promote exports.

The Thai Sang Thai Party, meanwhile, wants to set aside 150 billion baht for research and development while the Prachachart Party will push for a law to limit land ownership by investors.

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