The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation has discussed with the private sector measures to promote and manage Thai agricultural products. Recommendations offered by the private sector will be submitted to the new government, to be formed after the July 3 general election.
Deputy Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives Niwat Sutheemeechaikul said that his discussion with representatives from the Board of Trade of Thailand focused on the direction of Thai agricultural goods, especially the country’s major cash crops. They include rice, rubber, oil palm, tapioca, sugar cane, pineapple, longan, and other seasonal fruits.
Although Thailand has ranked sixth among the world’s largest rice producers, it has been the largest rice exporter for many years. In 2010, Thailand produced 21 million metric tonnes of rice and its rice exports came to about 10 million tonnes.
Based on these statistics, Mr. Niwat said that Thai farmers play a very important role in food security, not only for Thailand but also the world at large. According to the discussion, the new government was urged to ensure that farmers would not suffer a loss from their sale of rice each time. This would encourage them and the coming generations to continue to engage in cultivation. Moreover, farmers should be provided with greater opportunities to have access to financial sources in order to enhance the efficiency of their production. The new government should also have a policy to protect farmland for food security in accordance with the Thai way of living.
Mr. Niwat stated that four other crops, namely rubber, oil palm, tapioca, and sugar cane, have growing potential for exports, and Thailand exports more than 700 billion baht of these products each year. The private sector suggested that the new government should set guidelines for increasing the output of these crops through various measures. For instance, producers should be registered, price guarantees should be provided for them, and a management center to assist with agricultural warnings should be established for production stability in the long run.
China was cited as the largest importer of these crops from Thailand. If its imports reach saturation point in the future, it may turn to other markets, and Thailand may face price fluctuations for these agricultural goods. In this regard, the new government was urged to prepare measures to deal with the situation. It was also asked to give a major boost to various fruits that make a name for Thailand, which include rambutan, durian, banana, mango, and pomelo.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will forward these suggestions on the management of Thai agricultural goods to the new government for use as information to set the policy on the country’s economic crops.