Government pushes out long term rice strategy

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The government has decided to lay out a 20-year rice strategy for rice with determination to improve the country’s paddy management in order to resolve all farming and marketing problems.

The strategy will be implemented from next year.

The decision to establish the strategy was reached during the meeting of the Rice Policy and Management Committee chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday.

Gen Prayut said the 20-year strategy will cover upstream, middle-stream and downstream management of rice or from plantations to management, production and selling process.

He said the government also planned to map out similar strategies for other crops including rubber, cassava and sugar cane.

The prime minister urged Thai people to eat more rice.

According to him, rice consumption in Thailand has fallen from 190 kilogrames per person a year to 106 kilogrammes per person a year over the past 10 years.

Prime Minister Prayut said rice production will be capped at 25 million tons this year.

Capping rice production is necessary to prevent oversupply of the crop, he said.

He added that the government will come up with measures to give farmer incentive to convert their field for other crops production.

Rice production in Thailand stood at 31.2 tons last year.

Permanent secretary for Commerce Ms Chutima Bunyapraphasara meanwhile said  that a budget of some 10.08 billion baht has been proposed for the strategy implementation.

On the cap on rice, she said  that the Agricultural and Cooperative Ministry has put in place four measures to support rice farmers.

Farmers will be supported with good quality seeds. They will also be given access to financial assistance so they could cultivate rice on a larger field. Incentives will also be offered to farmers to lure them to cultivate a variety of crops and to rest their soils after plantations, she said.

She also asked for cooperation from famers to stop off-season rice farming due to high risk of crop loss.

According to her, off-season paddies have been grown on 1.96 million rais of lands along the Chao Phraya river basin. Of them, only 8.1% of the crop or rice grown on 240,000 rais of land has been harvested.