In the lead up to the Thai election I thought it would be useful to look at some of the key policy platforms of the major parties. As a start I have started to compiled (with generous help from a colleague in Thailand) the major policies relating to agriculture and rural development. The information has been taken from party websites and other statements of party policy. I make no claim that this summary is complete or perfectly accurate so please suggest any amendments.
тАв Invest 300,000 million baht (over five years) in a national expansion of irrigation.
тАв 6000 million baht per year for crop insurance against natural disasters.
тАв Price insurance for crops for alternative energy (ethanol).
тАв A 1-2 million baht sufficiency economy fund for each tambon.
The irrigation expansion is a big ticket item, but will only be attractive to farmers in some areas. The sufficiency economy fund is trivial but who needs money for sufficiency economy?
Phalang Prachachon (PPP)
тАв One Tambon One Product (OTOP) scheme;
тАв Promote Thai produce on international markets;
тАв Village Fund;
тАв “SML” – a development grants scheme whereby the level of grant depends on the size of the village (small, medium or large);
тАв “Above ground” lottery.
This looks like a steady-as-she-goes Thai Rak Thai package.
тАв Irrigation improvements for sufficiency water management;
тАв Crop price insurance;
тАв Promote local industry and promote Thai brands on international markets;
тАв Develop local livelihoods (yuu di kin di);
тАв Village Fund;
тАв SML scheme.
Not so different from PPP
тАв One million cow program – part 2.
тАв Increase the value of agricultural production.
тАв Price insurance for jasmine rice
тАв Promote seven types of livestock production (including provision for more tourist friendly cock fighting!)
тАв Plant forest to produce timber for small scale electricity production
тАв Urgently grant rights to agricultural land
тАв All villages must have roads and water supply.
тАв 9 million ponds within 4 years.
тАв Debt repayment moratorium for 3 years for farmers and public servants.
тАв Establish fund to support agricultural processing in northern Thailand.
тАв Support for local women’s groups.
тАв Establish a council for upland minority groups to improve their livelihoods.
Some interesting, and bizarre, initiatives here. They appear to be trying to target some of the more marginal and disadvantaged sections of the rural population.
тАв Develop 25 major watersheds for sufficiency water management
тАв Paved roads (without dust) for every village
тАв Establish soil bank
тАв Rice price insurance
тАв Implement community forest bill
тАв Establish farmer’s council
тАв Reform cooperatives law to increase the role of members
тАв Insurance for agricultural production
тАв Provincial seed and plant variety banks
тАв Pension for farmers of 500 baht per month
тАв Urgently solve farmer debt problem.
тАв 3 year debt moratorium
тАв Production inputs fund of 500,000 in each village
Comment: Like Matchimatipatai this is a wide-ranging program. The pension and production inputs fund are likely to be attractive to a good number of voters.