Maize farmers fear effects from imported barley

Maize farmers in Chiang Mai have expressed grave concern that their produce will have no buyers after they learned that about 120,000 tonnes of barley have been imported into the country as animal feed.

It was reported that 13 animal feed plants, most of the affiliated with the CP Group, out of a total of 50 which are members of the Thai Animal Feed Producers Association, have stopped buying maize farmers in the past few months and have shifted to imported barley or wheat, claiming that their prices are comparatively cheaper than locally-produced maize.

The prize of maize in front of animal feed factories averages 10-10.25 baht per kilogramme compared to 7-8 baht per kg of barley or wheat.

Association president Mr Pornsilp Patcharinrattanakul admitted that barley had been imported into the country as animal feed and other crops might be imported in the future too because of insufficient maize to meet the demand of animal feed producers and also because of its unusually high price.

He pointed out overall maize output in the country were estimated at five million tonnes which were about three million tonnes short of the demand required by animal feed producers.

Mr Pornsilp disclosed that producers who imported every tonne of wheat or barley to be used as animal feed must buy three tonnes of maize from farmers.

He said the association would like to propose the government to reduce the ratio of maize against wheat at 1:3 to 1:2 in the next harvest season to raise the amount of imported wheat closer to the actual need.

He insisted that the increased import of wheat would not upset the price of maize because maize price has been fixed at 8 baht per kg minimum.

He questioned whether maize farmers or the middlemen have benefitted from the high price of maize.