Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CP to expand its regional maize crops

The CP Group plans to enlarge its maize plantations in fourneighbouring countries by another 1.67 million rai to provide feed forthe group's livestock business.
Ajva Taulananda, vice-chairman of the group, said the expansion wasplanned over the next two years to bring the total plantation area to3.2 million rai in Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and Laos.
Its crop areas would climb to 1.7 million rai in Vietnam, 700,000 inBurma, 500,000 in Cambodia and 300,000 in Laos.
The expansion is expected to produce an additional 1.67 million tonnesof maize for CP to supply animal feedmill production and livestockfarming for CP Group and its SET-listed flagship Charoen PokphandFoods Plc. Regional subsidiaries CP Vietnam Livestock Co and CP LaosCo need a large volume of maize each year.
Maize sales in these countries are covered under a tariff-freearrangement backed by the Ayerawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Co-operation Strategy (Acmecs), a programme launched in 2003 to promotethe regional economy by raising farm incomes in Cambodia, Laos, Burma,Vietnam, and Thailand.
CP was among the first Thai corporations to grow maize in the region,planting about one million rai of the crop.
''The programme provides mutual benefits to both local farmers andCP,'' Dr Ajva said. ''Under the contract-farming format, CP provideshybrid seeds and farm technology to farmers and buys the produce backat market prices.''
He said that the group's advanced seed development had boosted yieldsto about 1,000 kilogrammes per rai, well above the average of 650 kgproduced in Thailand at present.
Dr Ajva said that companies under the CP Group used about two milliontonnes of maize per year. Overseas expansion could provide sufficientmaize for their operations amid the fierce battles for grain suppliesbetween the farm and industrial sectors.
Maize exports from the United States would continue decreasing as thecrop would be used more in ethanol plants, he said.
In Thailand, the four million tonnes of output are insufficient tokeep up with demand of about 5.5 million tonnes. Plantations were indecline as farmers turned to other higher-earning crops such as rubberand sugarcane.
The total area of maize fields fell to 5.08 million rai last year,down from 5.67 million in 2005 and 5.14 million rai in 2006.


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