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Thailand’s Commerce Ministry to Link Crops with Foreign Clients

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CHIANG RAI – The Commerce Ministry will restructure the working system to address low crop prices by connecting Thai farmers with global markets in a bid to boost rural economic growth.

The Chiang Rai Provincial commerce office will work with Thai overseas trade centres to provide access to export markets, said Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

The ministry will prioritize a list of farm products and begin the process of linking the domestic market nationwide with overseas export markets to absorb the oversupply of Thai farm products and find business partners for Thai farmers, Mr Sontirat said.

Farm products on the list include coconuts, palm oil, rice, pineapples, tapioca, longan, corn and rubber.

For the 2018-19 crop year, rice growers are expected to sell milled rice at 13,500-22,250 baht per tonne, depending on rice variety, Mr Sontirat said.

Earlier this year Chiang Rai farmers were forced to leave their pineapples to ripen and rot in the fields, as they were unable to make enough money to hire workers for harvesting.

Pineapples will be harvested in December and the ministry will help link the domestic market in each region to global counterparts, he said.

“In the long run, agricultural products will be processed into value-added products, which will help resolve the problem of oversupply in farming,” Mr Sontirat said.

On Nov 20, the Commerce Ministry will join with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BACC) to select about 100 farmers who use advanced technology from more than thousands of farmers to bring processed farm products to the global markets.

“For the last three months of this year, the ministry will closely monitor farm product prices and apply integrated measures,” Mr Sontirat said. “The government will have measures to oversee that farm prices are within a target price range.

“If the grassroots economy is strong, communities can support themselves and weather negative external factors such as the global economic slowdown or the tariff war.”

Mr Sontirat said provincial commerce offices are expected to assume a crucial role in implementing the government’s policy on stimulating the economy at the micro level and boosting tourism.

Last month, the Commerce Ministry teamed up with four state units to develop a business-to-business platform for traditional small-scale retail shops, aiming to strengthen 100,000 shops through online applications to compete with modern trade platforms and survive technological changes.

The ministry has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Digital Economy and Society Ministry, Thailand Post, Government Savings Bank and the BACC to develop an online platform that lets retail shops buy goods from suppliers.