The government of Thailand has started offering loans to community enterprises and farming cooperatives to plant cannabis. The plants were taken off Thailand’s narcotics list earlier this year.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) senior executive vice-president Somkiat Kimawaha said the loans will help farmers who want to plant cannabis (Hemp) as an alternative to rice.
Mr. Somkiat said that the planting of cannabis for medical use requires a large investment, and it also requires far more care and knowledge to grow, far more than rice.
“You need to be far more diligent to plant cannabis (Hemp), above all because plant demands close care,” he said.
The Bank for Agriculture loans for cannabis (Hemp) farmers will charge an interest rate of 0.01% per year for the first 3 years. The Agriculture Bank expects to grant the cannabis loans on a prudential basis, he said.
He said once the parts of the cannabis plant were taken off Thailand’s narcotics list, the commercial prospects of the plants related products has become extremely promising. Making cannabis the new cash crop for Thailand.
Cannabis plant parts removed from Thailand’s Narcotics list
The Cannabis plant is still listed as a category 5 narcotic under the Narcotic Drugs Act, but the Public Health Ministry recently issued an edict to have the plant’s leaves, stalks, stems and roots removed from the narcotics list.
Eligible recipients of the cannabis loans must be community enterprises, social enterprises or agricultural cooperatives, not individual borrowers.
They must have a memorandum of understanding from state agencies or processing plants that agreed to purchase their cannabis, leaves, stalks, stems and roots. The flow which contains THC is still illegal.
Mr. Somkiat said this guideline prevents a market glut of cannabis and also prohibits farmers from selling it to outsiders. Those of whom might use the plants for illegal gains. Furthermore, eligible borrowers (farmers) have to secure a permit from the FDA to plant cannabis on their lands.
All sales transactions for cannabis (Hemp) must be conducted via electronic channels so they can be easily monitored.
Enclosed farmhouses with CCTV
Cannabis farmers will be required to plant in closed greeneries, using CCTV systems and employ security personnel to monitor all activities inside and outside the greenhouses.
Borrowers of the cannabis loans must also be trained by related state agencies on cannabis plantations. They will also be required to submit business and risk control plans.
The borrowers will also be required to download the Bank for Agricultures QR code app and record their harvesting activities on the app. This will enable the bank to follow their progress and analyze for further cannabis loans to their clients.
Mr. Somkiat said The Bank for Agriculture has already granted cannabis loans totalling 5.1 million baht to 3 community enterprises. They are located in Prachin Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen.
The Bank for Agriculture estimates 157 community enterprises out of a total of 10,000 nationwide will have the potential to conduct cannabis farming. He said each enterprise will have to decide for itself whether it wants to make the investment.
Mr. Somkiat also said cannabis farming (Hemp) plantations are expected to add up to 35% more revenue to farmers’ existing revenue from traditional crops.