The Ministry of Agriculture will encourage farmers to turn to organic crops with an aim to increase organic rice-planting areas by one million rai within five years.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Chutima Boonyaprapat said that rice farmers who join the program would be given subsidies for the first three years because, during the initial period, their organic rice yield was expected to drop by about half of what they used to get for traditional non-organic rice farming which is heavily dependent on chemicals such as chemical fertilizer and pesticides. Subsidies to be provided to registered farmers will amount to 2,000 baht/rai for the first year, 3,000 baht/rai and 4,000 baht/rai for the second and third years respectively. The subsidies to be provided will be used to make preparations to turn to organic farming, such as buying organic plant seeds and building barriers in case the adjacent farmland is still resorting to chemical usage, explained Ms Chutima.
The deputy minister said that the ministry aims to increase the number of organic farmers by 400,000 within the next four years and to add another 600,000 rai of organic farm within the same period. She pointed out that there is an increasing demand for organic farm produce, both in local and foreign markets. But 40 percent of the organic farm produce will be for domestic consumption and the rest for exports under the plan, she added. The deputy minister noted that this program to increase organic farming was similar to giving farmers a fishing rod so that they can fish for themselves instead of giving them fish to eat which will last for just a day or two.