Ministry prepares raft of measures to boost rice prices including opening direct markets


THE COMMERCE Ministry will organise 109 open markets to sell rice paddy in 44 provinces during the 2016-17 production season starting this month to help shore up domestic prices and increase farmers’ bargaining power, according to Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn.

The Cabinet yesterday also approved a Bt18-billion proposal to implement a rice-pledging scheme in Pathum Thani and for white rice paddy as Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed appreciation to the public and private sectors for their cooperation and efforts in helping farmers hit hard by low paddy prices, which now average only Bt5,000 to Bt6,000 per tonne.

For instance, many private companies have directly purchased more than 600 tonnes of white rice from farmer groups, while farm cooperatives have stepped up their efforts to boost local communities’ capacity for rice production and milling for longer-term sustainability.

‘Tiny fraction’ of sales

However, the prime minister noted direct sales of rice represented only a tiny fraction of the country’s overall rice trade and would not exceed 5 per cent of the total. In addition, he said, the 300,000 farm cooperatives nationwide needed to be stronger and work closely with private rice millers so that they could better respond to both domestic and international demand.

Apiradee said open markets for rice paddy would help to boost competition for the benefit of farmers amid the current price slump. For example, the northeastern province of Udon Thani will set up open markets later this month at Central retail complexes and in the retail spaces of PTT gas stations so that farmers could negotiate prices directly with millers and other buyers, bypassing middlemen.

In Lopburi, consumers have also lined up at a provincial venues to buy milled rice directly from farmers while the Si Sa Ket police set up a market for farmers to sell rice directly to staff and their families. In Sukhothai, milled rice is also on sale at a 10-40 per cent discount at various PTT gas stations as the government and private sector agencies joined forces to promote more direct sales of rice to help farmers.


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