Academics have proposed that rice farmers employ relatives and friends to remove middlemen and help tackle falling prices.
Since the price of paddy has dropped to just Bt5 per kilogram, and is expected to drop further once the harvest season ends in November, a Kasetsart University economics lecturer has said that farmers’ families should help to bring rice directly to consumers.
He stated that the main reason for the low price is that the market is monopolised. As can be seen, the price of paddy is dropping but the price of polished rice is still high.
Therefore, in order to address this problem the producers and consumers must meet each other through farmers’ families.
A new marketing strategy is required along with new sales people. Farmers’ relatives can take up this role and put the rice directly in the consumer’s hands, especially since the latest crop is set to be harvested next month.
Farmers should be able to get at least Bt8 per kilogram for plain white rice and Bt15 per kilogram for jasmine rice – prices that are acceptable – if they did not deal with middlemen.
When the crops are harvested in November, the rainy season crop will enter the market at the same time. Hence, the price of paddy will drop much further, so farmers need to know that they don’t have to sell their produce at really low prices to middlemen.
Instead, the farmers can have their relatives in the city sell the rice.
Obviously, there are many challenges ahead for rice retailers, including the milling and packaging of the rice, the quality of rice, transportation of the rice and finally marketing.
Academics could provide advice and help farmers’ relatives to start small rice-selling businesses, with a training session to be held at Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Economics.
The government also needs to support new rice entrepreneurs by providing them with financial support. Most farmers were in desperate situations and had no choice but to sell paddy at low prices to middlemen.
A prominent farmer from Lamphun’s Li district said that she planned to sell rice online so her family and neighbours could get a fair price.
Usually, most of the rice produced by her family is for their own consumption, while the excess is sold to friends. However, many of their neighbours have no choice but to sell their produce at very low prices to middlemen.
She is now planning to set up a shop online to help them sell|rice at an acceptable price.
(Information provided by the Nation, Thailand)