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Thai officials get orders to wean farmers off rice


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Officials get orders to wean farmers off rice

By The Nation

 

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AMBITIOUS NEW SCHEME AIMS TO HAVE THEM SWITCH TO CORN FARMING
 

AGRICULTURE Minister Grisada Boonrach has ordered officials to proceed with a corn-growing promotion scheme under the government’s San Palang Pracharat public-private partnership initiative.

 

Moving ahead now would help achieve Grisada’s goal of having rice farmers switch from off-season rice this year to instead growing corn for animal feed on 2 million rai of land in 33 target provinces. 

 

He aims to reduce workplace risk to rice farmers and solve the issue of sagging agricultural product prices due to an oversupply that could drive many to call for government aid.

 

For this scheme to succeed, Grisada said farmers must have information about buying and selling prices and related conditions, as well as the demand for and supply of crops before starting the farming.

 

He said the government must also provide risk-reduction measures such as finding markets and buyers for farmers, with fair price offers ahead of the harvest; guarantee a minimum income to farmers or a fair purchasing price by the private sector; provide crop insurance; and provide support in term of information and capital/production factors.

 

The government has prepared four incentive measures. The first is a soft loan via the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to fund production and soil preparation at Bt2,000 per rai (for up to 15 rai per head), available at an interest of only 0.01 per cent per year.

 

The second has the government enabling the private sector to buy the produce at or above a minimum price set by the Commerce Ministry. The third is an insurance scheme for which a farmer would pay Bt65 per rai in order to get Bt1,500 compensation per rai if a disaster ruins the crops. Finally, it has issued a policy requiring the BAAC to give low-interest loans (at 1 per cent per year) to agricultural institutes to gather and buy the corn.

 

Grisada said the provincial governors and district chiefs in target areas were collaborating with officials in planning operations to woo farmers to grow corn. Each province also has its own “war room” centre to see the scheme through.

 

Officials will be dispatched to target areas to inform the farmers about the scheme and its benefits, he said. Other teams of officials will coordinate with private companies in the area and centrally in order to set up purchase points for the produce, and to draw up related criteria and conditions for purchases and for futures contracts to ensure fairness and transparency for farmers, he said.

 

The Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary and related directors-general were also assigned to follow the progress of the scheme, said Grisada. 

 

However, Dr Chokechai Aekatasanawan – director of the Kasetsart University’s National Research Centre of Millet and Corn - has advised rice farmers to be very cautious when switching to corn plantations. 

 

“There is a risk of the whole corn plantation being ruined by drought or floods if they are not careful,” he said. “Rice farmers are usually able to curb damage to paddy to an extent when natural disasters strike, because they have had long experience growing rice. Things will be different when they handle corn – a crop they are not so familiar with.”

 

Chokechai also emphasised that the Agriculture Ministry should help select good corn strains for farmers. 

 

According to him, provinces with suitable conditions for corn plantations are Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Phrae, Nan, Lampang, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, and Phetchabun. 

 

“Lower provinces risk being flooded. In the Northeast, there is a risk of the weather getting too hot for corn to yield crops,” he said. 

 

Some corn farmers also lamented that their yields have had high humidity and hence do not fetch good prices.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30356893

 
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In our area there is a lot less corn being grown because it uses a  lot of land, depletes the land, and gives very little return. This is hillside farming though, not paddy farming. I think CP is trying to get more farmers to grow corn to replace those who have seen the light. 

It is probably not a good idea to get farmers to re-purpose their paddy land for a second crop. A corn crop in the off season will only deplete their land for their main crop, making them spend extra money on fertilizer. As it is, off season rice is a gamble they seem wiling to make. It should be their problem if the rain doesn't fall.

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

“Lower provinces risk being flooded. In the Northeast, there is a risk of the weather getting too hot for corn to yield crops,” he said. 

 

As for weaning the farmers off of a second and third corp thats commendable. BUT too hot in the Northeast Bull Shyt..Give these farmers WATER in isaan and they will grow corn

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Not sure if corn is the answer, but rice is a crop that virtually assures a life of poverty. The elite want the farmers to continue growing rice. It is a devastating crop and one that is grown because the farmers do not know any better. Anything but rice. 

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44 minutes ago, canuckamuck said:

I think CP is trying to get more farmers to grow corn to replace those who have seen the light. 

My thoughts exactly. A gift to the ultra wealthy, more corn for animal food at a time when the UN is suggesting that feeding animals is not whats needed to combat climate warming. No suggestions forthcoming about training farmers to grow higher priced human food crops to get their income up.

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We are growing Corn and Onions.  We only do rice once a year and only enough to eat with.  Its not a viable cash crop for us.  Turmeric right we just planted, 30 Rai, everyone in our village is doing it, wife says it will actually produce a profit.  I am skeptical as i think over supply may come into play.    We have a large agricultural well that feeds several ponds then i pump it to the fields, using solar power for the well and the pumps.  Pretty ugly set up if you look at it, but it works very well. 

 

I can tell you this as a farmer, i don't give 2 bits what the United Nations says, i care what puts baht in my pocket. 

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55 minutes ago, spidermike007 said:

Not sure if corn is the answer, but rice is a crop that virtually assures a life of poverty. The elite want the farmers to continue growing rice. It is a devastating crop and one that is grown because the farmers do not know any better. Anything but rice. 

We only grow enough to eat, but even so, we have rented the field out some years and bought rice instead. There wasn't much difference economically 

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I understand the Thai Government subsidises rice growers at the rate of 1000 baht per Rai per year.

Can anyone tell me how this money is distributed to the farmers ?

Thanks.

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The government really needs to get out of the way and let the market work freely.  If rice farmers can't make crop rotation decisions on their own based on the market prices, and if they are not sophisticated enough to hedge price fluctuations with futures, then perhaps they shouldn't be farmers. 

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And if the government would get off their butts and allow the cultivation of marijuana to supply the growing global demand -- there wouldn't be a problem, just a lot of well-off and happy farmers.  :smile:

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4 hours ago, jimmyyy said:

We are growing Corn and Onions.  We only do rice once a year and only enough to eat with.  Its not a viable cash crop for us.  Turmeric right we just planted, 30 Rai, everyone in our village is doing it, wife says it will actually produce a profit.  I am skeptical as i think over supply may come into play.    We have a large agricultural well that feeds several ponds then i pump it to the fields, using solar power for the well and the pumps.  Pretty ugly set up if you look at it, but it works very well. 

 

I can tell you this as a farmer, i don't give 2 bits what the United Nations says, i care what puts baht in my pocket. 

Everyone in the village is doing it. Isn't that one of the issues. One local farmer grows turmeric, others see this and decide it's a good idea, suddenly there's an oversupply.  It's the same as the fruit salespeople at the side of the road. One enterprising individual would set up a stall selling watermelons to passers by, suddenly there are thirty stalls all selling exactly the same product.

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7 hours ago, canuckamuck said:

In our area there is a lot less corn being grown because it uses a  lot of land, depletes the land, and gives very little return. This is hillside farming though, not paddy farming. I think CP is trying to get more farmers to grow corn to replace those who have seen the light. 

It is probably not a good idea to get farmers to re-purpose their paddy land for a second crop. A corn crop in the off season will only deplete their land for their main crop, making them spend extra money on fertilizer. As it is, off season rice is a gamble they seem wiling to make. It should be their problem if the rain doesn't fall.

In the area I'm familiar with in Surin, many rice farmers had changed to cassava and sugar cane; the last gives a better income than rice. About a decade ago, or little more, a number planted rubber trees – there were some government support at that time – however now complaining about low rubber prices, which are lower then before due to a combination of little less demand and higher production. I've been told that it's not that easy just to change to grow something else, which might otherwise seem good, as the farmers need buyers; so if there's no nearby distribution channel for the harvest, it doesn't make sense growing it.

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Knowing nothing about farming but having seen it work in other countries, there would seem to be room to diversify into market garden type farms that can provide other cash crops by supplying vegetables, such as sweet peppers (capsicum) celery, potatoes, carrots, salads, fruits etc that currently rely on imported products and are currently very expensive. They would have more value if they could be certified organic. There is an education process to be gone through and water supply problems need to be managed, but I think many poor rice farmers could benefit from a switch.  

 

Even increase the number of cattle and sheep that are raised to reduce imports of milk and meat, provided suitable breeds are chosen that can withstand the heat. Arable and dairy farming can be easily combined with some crops being grown for animal feed in a mixed cycle.

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There are many many issues to deal with in order to move from one crop to another.

 

First, most farmers (100% in my village) are only farmers by name...they don't know jacks..t about the very basics of farming.

 

They even don't know about evaporation, thus watering their crops at 2 pm under the full sun.

 

They don't know about yields, having no idea of how many tons they harvest per rai, and even less how much it has cost them to get these tons.

 

They have no idea of the fertilizer efficiency: if you spend one thousand baht on fertilizer, do you get enough extra kilos to at least cover this cost? may ruu...

 

So the more spraying the better...because it must be so...

 

On top of that there is the laziness factor to take into account.

 

They manage to grow rice with barely having to move from their hamoc!

 

Step 1: pay someone to turn the soil still holding the straw from the previous harvest

 

Step 2: walk inside the paddies and throw rice grains left and right, as if you were feeding the chickens (which actually enjoy it)

 

Step 3: go back to sleep and wait for the rain

 

Step 4: after a couple of months, go back inside the paddyfields and drop a few extra rice grains in the patches that have remained bald.

 

Step 5: go back to sleep until harvest time..but don't forget to pay someone (a kind of kamikaze) to go spray your fields with Roundup or similar poison, in order to kill the pesky weeds.

 

Step 6: call the harvester who will do the work and deliver the bags to your door, ready to consumption.

 

Not many crops allow so little work...easy to understand why they make no money from it...

 

Growing most fruits is not interesting because you have to go get them, sometime up in the tree, something unacceptable...bananas are fine, respectful of the farmer's condition, coconuts certainly are not!

 

All these small farmers should better be educated with an objective of self-sufficiency, rather than with commercial objectives.

 

Monoculture is bad, for the soil as well as the farmer.

 

They need to go back to the basics of farming...a tall order...

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13 hours ago, jimmyyy said:

We are growing Corn and Onions.  We only do rice once a year and only enough to eat with.  Its not a viable cash crop for us.  Turmeric right we just planted, 30 Rai, everyone in our village is doing it, wife says it will actually produce a profit.  I am skeptical as i think over supply may come into play.    We have a large agricultural well that feeds several ponds then i pump it to the fields, using solar power for the well and the pumps.  Pretty ugly set up if you look at it, but it works very well. 

 

I can tell you this as a farmer, i don't give 2 bits what the United Nations says, i care what puts baht in my pocket. 

Tumeric is the newest health fad in UK. You can see it advertised in magazines and the 'Sundays' and seems to have a good mark up.

Small amounts are added to health products and even breakfast cereals.

Worth a punt now I would imagine.

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I grew turmeric (just a small patch). But Thais rarely use it, and i couldn't find a buyer at the market. You need  a buyer first.

 

The problem with growing many salad/green vegetables is the climate. In the open, you cannot grow bell peppers easily - i have tried most years, yes the plants grow but the fruit is tiny - too hot i think. In the North-east when the hot weather comes in March many plants just die or stop growing. That is why they only grow vegetables in winter .... also some plants have significant pest problems, you need a lot of insecticide to grow a commercial crop. 

 

I have been growing vegetables for 8 years here (for family. although they do sometimes sell the surplus), and very hit and miss - I understand why the locals just stick to those which are reliable, a bad choice or bad luck means no money ...

 

I loose at least 50% each year overall, trying to grow organically, some crops are close to 100% most years (courgettes, spinach, beetroot). I think i would need another 50 years to crack it but i haven't got that long! What grows well also depends on your soil and local factors (some pests are more common in one area, but very few a couple of 100 metres away)

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