Rice exporters have stepped in to help sell rice in the government's stockpiles, starting with lucrative Hom Mali, but the move will be slated mainly for produce from the new harvest.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said yesterday after meeting with representatives from the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) that the government and rice exporters agreed to hold joint roadshows and trade fairs in key rice trading partners such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore in an effort to accelerate shipments to the remaining quarters.
At the meeting, the TREA's members also promised to participate more in state rice bids and collaborate in rice marketing to boost exports and dispose of the government's supply.
The meeting nevertheless raised existing thorny issues of the state rice pledging scheme, particularly about details of the government-to-government export deals under discussion.
Mr Boonsong has said the government signed contracts to export 7.3 million tonnes of rice to four countries - Indonesia, China, Bangladesh and Ivory Coast - under the pledging scheme, but critics question whether the deals exist and have called for evidence.
Of the amount, 1.4 million tonnes has been delivered to buyers, accounting for 20%.
Mr Boonsong said an additional 300,000 tonnes will be delivered between now and December, with the remaining 5.56 million tonnes gradually shipped out next year.
He did not speak about how the government should manage the new produce from the 2012-13 harvest.
TREA president Korbsook Iamsuri said the rice exporters proposed the ministry immediately sell Hom Mali rice harvested from the new crop that is about to be released, given Hom Mali's popularity.
"Demand for new Hom Mali rice is overwhelming, as the new and fresh grain for this sort of rice is the most fragrant with little deterioration," she said.
TREA vice-president Charoen Laothamatas urged the state to help manage rice stocks more effectively, particularly for in-demand Hom Mali rice.
He also called on the Agriculture Ministry to supervise the use of pesticides and fertiliser after an Indonesian watchdog urged its government to test rice imported from Thailand after rice exported to the US was found to contain worrisome levels of inorganic arsenic.
The US-based Consumer Reports magazine tested more than 200 boxes of 60 popular rice-based products found on New York-area shelves and found elevated levels of arsenic in 32 of them.
While samples containing Thai Hom Mali rice contained amounts of inorganic arsenic, the levels were half those found in US-grown rice.
Commerce Ministry figures show 5.24 million tonnes of rice were exported from January to Oct 10, a sharp drop from 9 million tonnes in the same period last year. Thailand shipped 10.6 million tonnes of rice in 2011.
The TREA predicts a best-case export scenario of 6.5 million tonnes this year.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter