Three ministries inked MoU for megafarms (Photo: bangkokpost.com)
Bangkok (VNA) – The Thai Government is moving ahead with a megafarm scheme, aiming to cut production costs and raise productivity. 

A memorandum of understanding was recently signed by the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and the Ministry of the Interior with a goal of developing 426 rice megafarms spanning 800,000 rai (128,000 ha) this year. 

Under the scheme, participating farmers can borrow up to 5 million THB (145,000 USD) with a 0.01 percent interest rate from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The Ministry of Commerce is responsible for marketing and selling rice and looking for buyers. 

In late August, the Cabinet approved a 3.25 billion THB (87 million USD) loan package via the BAAC for megafarm projects from 2017 – 2019. 

As of September 7, 386 rice megafarms were set up in Thailand, drawing the participation of 57,775 farmers from 66 cities and provinces. 

The Government aims to build 1,000 rice megafarms next year and is considering preferential policies to attract more farmers, said Agriculture Minister Chatchai Sarikulya. 

Charoen Laothammatas, President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association said this project will help cut production costs and raise productivity and competitiveness of Thai rice in the international market. However, rice prices are unlikely to increase in the short term due to high supply. 

Thailand expects to produce 23 million tonnes of rice this year. At present, the country still has 8.4 million tonnes of stockpiled rice./.