P-Move lauds Pita Limjaroenrat’s policy statement debate on Thai agricultural issues
The People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) posted on its Facebook page this morning (Saturday) that the policy statement debate, delivered by Future Forward MP Pita Limjaroenrat, accurately reflects the current issues facing Thai agriculture and the policies stated could lead to real solutions.
“With our eyes closed, it was as if we were listening to a speech at Hyde Park corner by P-Move or a civil network. The policy statement contained substantial information and clear proposals which could lead to collective solutions to the problems.” says P-Move.
P-Move distilled Pita’s statement into five key messages:
- The main obstacle to fully addressing the problems in Thai agriculture is land ownership, which is a basic human right.
- Since most Thai agriculturalists do not own the land they farm, they do not have access to formal loans and, instead, turn to informal lenders and end up in a debt cycle. To solve this problem, Mr. Pita proposed that the government take advantage of the digital age by developing an alternative credit scoring program to get people out of the informal debt trap.
- To make ends meet and to repay their debts, Thai agriculturists need income assurance, so they stick to monoculture and the use of chemical pesticides to ensure that product yields and sale prices are high. This problem can be solved, says Mr. Pita, by reducing chemical pesticide use, establishing a biological institute and supporting the use of herbal medication, citing China’s policy to reduce pesticide use by 10%, while Thailand is the largest importer of chemical pesticides from China.
- Farmers do not have access to product processing and new agricultural technology because they are trapped between the high cost of farming (due to the use of chemical pesticides) and their products being sold at low prices, leading to a lack of cash reserves for investment. Mr. Pita suggested that the government push for Thailand to be Asia’s number one producer of medical marijuana.
- Farmers do not have access to opportunities for self-development, to enable them to access additional or alternative income sources, such as other agricultural services and tourism. According to Mr. Pita, to enable promotion of agricultural tourism, all four aforementioned problems have to be resolved.
P-Move concluded that Mr. Pita’s proposal is that Thailand should create a ‘Special Social Zone’ (in parallel with the ‘Special Economic Zone’), starting with an end to the disputes over land ownership, between the people and the government, by issuing provisional laws that allow them to stay and make use of the lands and by granting community rights to electricity and piped water.
In response to Mr. Pita’s statement, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said the proposals were constructive. He agreed that land ownership is the core problem and said Thailand cannot be a happy country if it cannot ensure happiness for its 30 million farmers and agriculturalists, adding that he already working on the illegal debt issues with all concerned.