3.81m-tonne rice sell-off targeted

3.81m-tonne rice sell-off targeted

An official checks the quality of rice stored in a warehouse in Bangkok's Klong Sam Wa district. The government plans to sell more than 3.81 million tonnes of rice this month.  PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
An official checks the quality of rice stored in a warehouse in Bangkok's Klong Sam Wa district. The government plans to sell more than 3.81 million tonnes of rice this month.  PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

The government is confident that its plans to sell two big batches of rice stocks, amounting to 3.81 million tonnes this month, will not adversely affect domestic rice prices.

Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the department would call for bids on 1.63 million tonnes, 730,000 tonnes of which would be slated for general uses, including a mix of Grade C, which is categorised as substandard quality for industrial use; Grade P, which has received ministry certification; and Grades A and B, meaning in slightly poor condition and in need of sorting for improvement.

The remaining 900,000 tonnes would be substandard rice designated for industrial use, up from the 400,000 tonnes announced by the department earlier this month.

Mrs Duangporn said interested bidders are required to purchase the entire contents of each warehouse storing the rice and give clear details on where they intend to resell the stock.

The state-run Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO) and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers would be tasked with tracking the rice shipments' movements up until they reach their final destinations.

The Foreign Trade Department will invite interested buyers to submit their qualifications on July 21 and file bidding prices on July 25. Winners will be announced on July 28.

Taking into account the 2.18 million tonnes of rice the government plans to sell directly to domestic rice traders and exporters who have secured purchase orders from foreign countries, the additional 1.63 million tonnes will bring total planned state rice sales this month to 3.81 million tonnes.

Mrs Duangporn said that despite the relatively large amount, authorities believe this is the proper time to offload the rice, given higher demand on the world market and decreased new supplies.

She said the government is committed to disposing of as much of its rice stock as possible and will possibly open new bids for rice stocks next month.

The government is estimated to control about 9.5 million tonnes in state stocks, a sharp drop from 18.7 million tonnes accumulated through various rice-pledging schemes during 2011-14.

"We cannot tell right now how much we will achieve in rice sales this month," Mrs Duangporn said. "But the authorities have evaluated demand and believe the time period [for sales] is proper. We strongly believe we will dispose of all state rice stocks by next year."

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