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Thailand: Government Proceeding with Its Plan to Ease Farmers’ Problems in All Areasv
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Thailand
Created: May 17, 2010

The Government has reaffirmed that it would proceed with its plan to tackle farmers’ problems systematically and to cover all areas, including poverty, land rights, crop prices, and welfare. In his address to mark National Farmers Day this year, May 13, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the country’s agricultural sector had been adversely affected by the economic crisis over the past year. The Government has, therefore, implemented several immediate measures to help farmers cope with the crisis, while medium and long-term measures have been worked out to empower farmers on a sustainable basis.

These measures include income guarantees, crop price stabilization, and the arrangement of the agricultural commodity trade system. Moreover, one million rai, or 400,000 million acres, of public land are rented to landless farmers for cultivation. With these measures, the agricultural sector should be able to accommodate the many workers who have been laid off from the manufacturing sector. The Prime Minister said that the economic situation this year has improved, thus easing farmers’ difficulties. Even so, the Government must continue to accelerate the solving of various issues, especially those concerning drought and falling paddy prices. Now paddy prices have picked up, and the Government is confident that income guarantees are the right way to deal with farmers’ problems, so it will continue to carry out the program more efficiently.

According to the Prime Minister, the Government will also proceed with many schemes to provide farmers with agriculture insurance, develop and rehabilitate their occupations, promote their farming based on the “Sufficiency Economy” philosophy, and accelerate the solving of their debts. It will push for the establishment of a national farmers council, as well. He said that although the agricultural sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product declined to only 10 percent now, workers in the farm sector account for 35 percent of the country’s labor force. The Prime Minister believed that farmers would play an increasingly important role in the future because of greater global demand for food crops and the fact that Thailand is one of the world’s major food exporters.

He said that Thailand is at an advantage, as it has s strong agricultural base, which offers many opportunities. About 35 percent of the Thai population is engaged in agriculture and the farm sector has contributed greatly to the national economic and social development. The Prime Minister called on Thai people to underline the importance of the agricultural sector and come up with ideas on how to increase productivity and apply new technology to enhance the efficiency of agricultural production. Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Theera Wongsamut said that a budget of 131 million baht would be set aside to enhance rice production and empower farmers to enable them to cope with impacts from trade liberalization under the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), from April 2010 to 2012.
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