"According to our laws and our policy, foreigners or foreign companies are not allowed to rent or buy land to grow rice or any kind of food, including raising livestock, in Thailand," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.
The issue of farmland investments is expected to be raised in the first ministerial meeting between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on June 29-30 in Manama.
A number of Gulf states have expressed interest in livestock and rice farming in Thailand to secure food supplies, a Thai official said on Monday. "The countries involved could be Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar or the UAE," he added.
In 2006, Thailand had about 25 million farmers, who accounted for 40% of the population. The number is likely fall to 37% of the population by 2013. The government must act to reverse the trend, otherwise investors could rent or buy land from farmers to invest in large-scale farming, agricultural processing plants and hiring local people.