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The Farm Sector to Play a Greater Role in Thailand’s Economic Development Process
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Monday, June 07, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Thailand
Created: Jun 21, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stressed the Government’s firm intention to improve farmers’ quality of life when he met a group of 200 farmer leaders and young farmers who paid a courtesy call on him on June 4 at Santi Maitri Building, Government House. The meeting took place one day before the celebration of National Rice and Farmers Day, June 5, in recognition of the dedication of farmers to cultivating rice, the staple food of the Thai population. The Prime Minister said that rice has always been part of Thai life and culture, but recently the role of the industrial sector has increased. So the future of the farm sector and farmers has become a matter of concern.

He said that Thailand had been the world's largest rice exporter for 20 years now. Even so, farmers’ income is still minimal, uncertain, and insecure. In order to provide security for farmers in terms of income and livelihood, the Government has come up with an income guarantee project for rice farmers to replace the rice mortgage scheme, which was carried out for many years. Farmers have benefited directly from the project, which will have to be adjusted in response to the needs of each locality, while guaranteeing welfare for farmers at the same time.

Prime Minister Abhisit said that the Government is considering the setting up of a welfare fund for farmers in response to their demand. As for a call for savings, he said, the Government is pushing for the birth of the National Savings Fund for people outside the social security system and the government service to receive financial support after their retirement. This will be a significant step for farmers, as those who are outside the social security system will be able to enjoy better welfare.

Moreover, the Prime Minister said, the Government will improve rice varieties and support rice processing in order to add value to Thai rice, which will enable farmers to earn more income. It is confident that the country’s farm sector will receive greater attention because of the fact that Thailand has become a major food producer and exporter. The Government is also focusing on spreading the message of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy, initiated by His Majesty the King, and his “New Theory of Agriculture” in farming for self-reliant agriculture.

Prime Minister Abhisit cited the water crisis as a major problem in Thailand from the middle of this year to early next year. Thailand’s major dams are facing the lowest level of water in recent years. The situation would certainly affect rice farming in irrigated areas, as well as the second rice crop farming. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has been entrusted with monitoring the situation closely in order to bring it under control as soon as possible.
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