THAILAND: Task force to tackle main crop prices

By Phusadee Arunmas, Bangkok Post


The first joint task force between the Commerce and Agriculture ministries will soon be set up in a bold move aimed at tackling the issue of stabilising main crop prices.



Commerce Ministry spokeswoman Duangkamol Jiambutr said the joint task force would include high-ranking officers of both ministries and be co-chaired by their permanent secretaries.


It will formulate measures and strategic planning from production to marketing for six main cash crops – palm oil, rice, tapioca, maize, rubber and fruits.


The task force will also be responsible for working out measures to curb oversupply and an expected flood of products from neighbouring countries after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is launched late this year.


It will also meet each month to evaluate cooperation and measures.


The two ministries now work almost independently in handling farm product issues.


The Agriculture Ministry supervises mainly production, while the Commerce Ministry focuses largely on sales and marketing.


“With the AEC fast approaching, it’s a must not only for our farmers to adjust and improve their production and product quality but for the government to beef up spending on research and development to boost quality of farm products and reduce production costs,” Ms Duangkamol said.


Last year Thailand earned US$5.43 billion baht from rice exports, up 23% from 2013, with tapioca shipments worth $3.56 billion (up 9.87%), maize $159 million (up 20%), fruits $1.26 billion (up 20%) and palm oil $333 million (down 38%).


Shipments of overall agricultural products (farming, livestock and fisheries) made up 9.8% of the country’s exports at the end of last year, generating 720 billion baht.


Commerce Ministry figures show agribusiness product shipments amounted to 547 billion baht or 7.5% of exports.


Industrial product shipments earned the country 5.64 trillion baht, making up 77.2% of total exports in 2014.


Ms Duangkamol said the government also needed to tackle sanitary and phytosanitary standards and a quarantine system jointly with other Asean members and settle mutual regulations, particularly on fruits, as well as address non-tariff barriers.


Indonesia, for instance, requires imported fruits from Thailand to be shipped through only four checkpoints — Jakarta airport and the ports of Surabaya, Medan and Makassar — from an earlier eight checkpoints, making it difficult for Thai fruit exporters.


Indonesia also sets an import quota for longan. Last year, Jakarta allowed only 60,000 tonnes of longan to be imported from Thailand. It also has restrictions on when Thai fruits can be imported.


Ms Duangkamol said the Philippines also allowed the import of only a few Thai fruits.


Source: Bangkok Post

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