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Maize and cassava crop guarantees extended

The Agriculture Ministry has extended the income guarantee program for maize and cassava to help planters affected by recent floods.

The extensions would also cover planters who initially failed to join the program because they lived in remote areas, according to Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut.

The minister said he had received numerous complaints from planters from many flood-hit provinces, who said natural disasters had barred them from participating in the program.

The current program required maize growers to register by mid-December and enter contracts with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives by mid-January.

Mr Theera said the registration deadline would be moved to the end of this month and the contract date to Jan 31.

The income guarantee program is also being extended for the 2010-11 cassava crop from May 31 to Sept 30, 2011.

Guarantee programs were introduced this year for three major crops - rice, cassava, and maize - to finance small farmers directly.

Under the plan, the government through the BAAC would pay farmers for the difference between the market price and the reference price.

The guarantee price for 2010-11 maize is 7.14 baht a kilogram, up from 7.10 baht in the last crop, and cassava is 1.90 baht, up from 1.70 baht.

The reference prices of rice and payments to farmers are announced every two weeks. The reference price of Hom Mali fragrant paddy this week is 13,696 baht a tonne and the state would pay 1,604 baht for the difference since the market price is higher.

The BAAC reported earlier that it would use about 32 billion baht to fund this year's program.

About 3.5 million rice farmers, 401,002 maize growers and 448,042 cassava planters are expected to apply for the schemes this year.

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