With floods and depleted state stockpiles, buyers around the world have rushed to place orders for Thai rice.
FLOOD IMPACT: Importers rushing to place rice orders by Walailak Keeratipipatpong
In the photo above, Edwin Koster gathers paddy from a boat he’s been using to carry harvested grain from inundated fields in Chumphon Buri district in Surin to be dried on the side of the highway nearby. The 40-year-old Dutchman, married to a native of Surin for three years, offers his services to his neighbours free of charge. "I like rowing. Since Thai farmers are in trouble now, this is the least I can do," he said.
Severe floods that have inundated 4 million rai of rice plantations are likely to raise concern among foreign importers as many buyers have rushed to load shipments in recent weeks.
Thai rice exports, which have been slow since the start of this year, have become much more active, with volume in October up 28% year-on-year to 778,200 tonnes.
It's unusual to see numerous cargo ships in Thai ports busy loading rice this month," said Korbsook Iamsuri, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.
Normally they would avoid this period for fear that the returning ships might get stuck over the long Christmas holidays at their countries' ports.
Mrs Korbsook said news reports of a possible shortfall of rice in Thailand next year due to current floods had prompted a rush by importers to secure big orders, mostly placed from African countries for Thai parboiled rice.
The export prices of parboiled rice have been volatile this week, at about US$500 a tonne on Wednesday, up $50 from two days ago," she noted.
The price of 100% B grade white rice also rose to $520 a tonne yesterday, from $505 last week.
The Agriculture Ministry reports that floods and heavy rains have affected more than 6 million rai of farmland in 51 provinces, of which 4 million rai are rice plantations. As a result, paddy output is expected to shrink by about one million tonnes, or 4.3% of annual production. The figure does not include damage from the South, where heavy rains struck this week.
However, checks this week revealed that there was not much crop damage to fragrant rice fields, especially in Thung Kula Rong Hai, a major Hom Mali rice area in the Northeast. Details of damage in the central plains remain hard to verify, she added.
"Besides, many provinces will be able to start planting main-crop rice in the near future," she said.
The association plans an intensive crop survey late this month in the Northeast.
Mrs Korbsook said that although she believed current high prices would have a short-term psychological impact, many traders were also concerned that next year's prices might move up unusually, similar to what happened in 2008, if there are big sales by the government.
The government's sales would deplete state stockpiles, which stand at about 2.1 million tonnes at present, down from 5 million early this year after authorities sold 3.1 million tonnes to private companies over the past few months.
Mrs Korbsook said more orders from foreign buyers for delivery next year were expected and would likely lift exports beyond the 8.5 million tonnes estimated in 2010.
However, exporters prefer a stable rice market rather than extreme volatility that occurred in 2008 when export prices hit a record high.
The oil crisis and concerns about food crops being diverted for fuel pushed up commodity prices around the globe and Thai fragrant rice reached a record $1,222 a tonne in May that year.
(Source: Bangkok Post, FLOOD IMPACT, Importers rushing to place rice orders, 4/11/2010, Walailak Keeratipipatpong, link)
paddy - rice after it has been harvested from the field ข้าวเปลือก
inundated - flooded ถูกน้ำท่วม, จมลงใต้น้ำ
grain - the seed from cereal crops such as rice, wheat, or corn เมล็ดพืช
native - someone who was born in a particular place ชาวพื้นเมือง
offers his services - tells people that he would like to help them
free of charge - free, no need to pay
row - row a boat, making a small boat (row boat) move with a small stick (paddle) พาย
plantations - large farms
concern - a worry ความกังวล
rushed (adjective) - do something very quickly ด้วยความเร่งรีบ
load - to put a lot of things into a vehicle or machine ใส่,บรรจุ
shipment - an amount of goods carried from one place to another on a ship, plane, train or truck การขนส่งสินค้า, การส่งสินค้า
active - working, operating, doing a job or task, going through a process or series of steps
become much more active - doing more work in a period of time, working more intensely
volume - the quantity or amount of something
year-on-year - comparing the amount for a period this year with the same period last year
numerous - many มากมาย
cargo - goods carried in a truck, plane, or train สินคา้ที่บรรจุในตู้สินค้า ขนส่งทางรถหรือรถไฟ (ในภาษาไทย บางครั้งเรียก ตู้คอนเทนเนอร์)
cargo ships - ships that carry things (cargo) not people (passengers)
port - a place where ships park between trips to sea ท่าเรือ
stuck - when something is fixed in a place and difficult to move (example: the car was stuck in the mud)
shortfall - not have enough, an amount which is less than the level that was expected or needed จำนวนที่ขาดไป, ปริมาณที่ขาดไป
current - at the present time ปัจจุบัน
prompted - caused (them to do something)
rush (noun) - to move or do something very quickly รีบเร่ง, วิ่ง
secure - to get or achieve something ได้รับ, ทำให้ได้ผล
parboiled rice - rice that is boiled until partially cooked ข้าวต้มสำเร็จรูป
volatile (adjective)- changing quickly and unpredictably, so the public does not know how to react and plan for the future เปลี่ยนแปลงอย่างทันทีทันใดและโดยคาดการณ์ไม่ได้
volatility (noun) - the situation when prices move up and down suddenly in unexpected ways
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
shrink - to become smaller, or to make something smaller หดตัว, เล็กลง
annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
figure - an amount of money จำนวนเงิน
revealed - made known or showed something that was surprising or that was previously secret เปิดเผย
Hom Mali - a variety of rice discovered in Thailand, a long-grain variety of rice that has a nutty aroma and a special taste (See Wikipedia on Jasmine rice)
fragrant rice - same as "Hom Mali"
verify - to prove that something is true, or to make certain that something is correct พิสูจน์ว่าเป็นความจริง
intensive - involving a lot of effort, energy, or attention
survey - gathering information by asking large numbers of people questions and counting their answers, and then using statistics, graphs, and tables to present results (See Wikipedia) การสำรวจ
impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
psychological impact - the effect on the way people think and feel
trader - person or company who buys and sells things for a profit
concerned - worried about something มีความกังวล
deplete - reduce the amount or numbers of things, consume, drain, exhaust ทำให้หมดสิ้น, ทำให้ลดลง, ทำให้พร่อง, ทำให้ว่างเปล่า
state - government รัฐ
stockpiles - large amounts of something stored for future use กองสินค้าในโกดัง
authorities - government official, the people with power to make decisions เจ้าหน้าที่ของรัฐ
order - a request by a customer from a business (supplier) to provide them with something they want to buy คำสั่งซื้อขาย
lift - raise, increase
stable - not changing frequently and not likely to suddenly become worse, therefore predictable and easy to work with คงที่, มั่นคง, ไม่เปลี่ยนแปลง
extreme - much more severe or serious than usual ที่ร้ายแรงมาก, ที่รุนแรงที่สุด
record - the best or most ever achieved สถิติ
crisis - an urgent, difficult or dangerous situation วิกฤต
concerns - worries ความกังวล
diverted - caused something to change direction เบนเส้นทางเดินน้ำ
fuel - substance burned to make a vehicle such as a car or an airplane move (gasoline, kerosene, ethol)