Published on April 15, 2008
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has encouraged farmers to expand maize plantation to cover more than 300,000 rai in a bid to reduce imports and profit from high corn prices.
Recently, the Agricultural Land Reform Office inked a contract-farming agree-
ment with EM Agriculture to encourage farmers in five provinces - Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu and Uttaradit - to grow maize.
The move will directly support animal feed meal, as it accounts for 50-60 per cent of the product.
The new supply will also alleviate costs for feed-meal producers by stabilising the price of maize.
Anan Phusitthikul, secretary-general of the office, said farmers would also be encouraged to form community enterprises.
The office aims to set up 750 enterprises with a total membership of 15,000 farmers.
Farmers in the programme can learn more about farming methods and marketing.
In addition, they can obtain low interest loans with rates of 1 per cent from the land reform fund.
The fund is set to lend a total of Bt600 million.
The total area in Thailand under maize recently reached more than 7.7 million rai with a total production of 4.47 million tonnes.
The country imported 150,356 tonnes of maize worth Bt495.07 million last year.
Since early this year, import volumes reached 50,741 tonnes worth BT164.13
million. Imports come mainly from
Laos, Burma, and Cambodia under
the Ayeyawady-Chao Phya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy pact.
The cooperation agrees to reduce import tariffs from these countries to zero.
Thailand also exports 90,820 tonnes
of the crop worth Bt643.22 million last year.
The Thai Animal Feed Meal Association said the price had increased because the US, a major grower and exporter, plans to reduce areas under maize and instead plant more soybean, which fetches a higher price.
Growing production costs, particularly for fertiliser, and the problem of climate change have prompted US farmers to grow crops that provide higher returns.
The expected lower supply of maize will affect the feed meal and livestock industries in Southeast Asia if maize prices surge higher.