Agencies instructed to rev up organic rice drive

The government has ordered responsible agencies to speed up the promotion of organic rice to raise the income of farmers and create sustainability in the farm sector.

According to Boonyarit Kalayanamit, the permanent commerce secretary, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as chairman of the National Rice Policy Committee ordered during a meeting on April 27 related agencies to rev up promotion of the second phase of the organic price promotion plans for 2022-25.

He said Gen Prayut also assigned responsible agencies to focus more on research, plant breeding and rice technology to upgrade farmers’ income and quality of life, while the government should be able to lower its financial burden for the price guarantee scheme over the long term.

Suthep Khongmak, a member of the National Rice Policy Committee who represents farmers, said the government’s promotional policy discontinuity is a key stumbling block for organic rice farming.

He said the government still has not disbursed the 1 billion baht it promised to support organic rice farmers under the first phase of the national organic rice development plan, spanning 2017-21.

The first phase called for promoting and encouraging farmers to grow organic rice covering 1 million rai of farmland within three years, while the government pledged support of 2,000 baht per rai in the first year, 3,000 baht per rai in the second year, and 4,000 baht per rai in the third year to convince farmers to grow organic rice.

Mr Suthep said with changes in the government and ministers handling the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and the Commerce Ministry, organic rice promotion has been played down.

There is 700,000 rai of organic rice, mainly planted in the Northeast.

“I already informed Gen Prayut at the meeting that the government is paying little attention to organic rice promotion,” he said.

“We hope government agencies will pay more serious attention to the new development plan during 2022-25.”

In a related development, the National Rice Policy Committee approved 146 million baht to support organic rice farming this year. State agencies were instructed to help farmers access markets and upgrade quality standards.

Mr Suthep said Thai organic rice farmers have great potential because they already established community enterprises to sell a combined 100,000 tonnes of organic grain through exports to China, Japan and Europe in 2021.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/2303378/agencies-instructed-to-rev-up-organic-rice-drive