Rice DNA inspections on the cards

The Commerce Ministry is teaming up with Kasetsart University (KU) to set up a laboratory for DNA identification of Thai rice in a bid to strengthen confidence among foreign buyers in terms of grain quality.

Pranee Siriphand, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said a memorandum of understanding was recently signed with KU to set up a 64-million-baht laboratory on campus specifically to analyse DNA of Thai rice varieties.

Forty million baht will come from the Commerce Ministry's budget for fiscal 2013 and the other 24 million from KU.

The new lab will start analysing rice samples and certifying all varieties of Thai grains for the private and public sectors in the next 180 days.

"We fully hope this new lab will prove instrumental in easing Thai rice trading and boosting confidence among foreign importers of Thai rice," said Ms Pranee.

Thai rice has fallen under a great amount of pressure, with the country losing its position as the world's largest rice exporter last year after the government's high pledging prices made Thai grains uncompetitive in global markets.

Contamination concerns have also mounted recently after the Foundation for Consumers and its associates announced their own findings in July that 34 of 46 packed rice samples contained varying amounts of methyl bromide, an odourless, colourless gas used to fumigate rice.

Last year's rice shipments fell by 35% to 6.95 million tonnes.

As of last Friday, this year's exports had fallen by 5% year-on-year to 4.46 million tonnes and shipment value by 2.5% to US$3.01 billion.

In a separate development, Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the TCC has joined hands with five leading retailers.

Together they will expand marketing channels for Thai farm products and help Thai entrepreneurs enter Asean markets by adopting ThaiGAP (Good Agricultural Practices) food safety standards.

The retailers are CP All, Siam Makro, Central Food Retail, Ek-Chai Distribution System and Big C Supercenter.

About the author

Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter