Rice harvest prompts wary sales

Rice harvest prompts wary sales

The government will pause its efforts to dispose of state rice stocks to curb any adverse impact on domestic rice prices as the latest harvest enters the market.

According to Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, with the annual rice harvest season beginning earlier, rice sales must be held cautiously.

"Authorities are now studying proper periods and types of grains for disposal, and adjusting criteria to comply with changing conditions," she said.

Mrs Duangporn said the government now controls 8.4 million tonnes, of which half is good-quality rice and the rest is suitable for industrial use.

The quantity of state rice stocks has fallen from 18.7 million tonnes accumulated through various rice-pledging schemes in 2011-14.

Earlier last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told relevant authorities to closely monitor rice prices before calling for a new round of rice auctions.

The premier said accelerated sales of rice in large amounts could hurt domestic prices, while the global market is likely to be nonreactive to higher production.

Thailand is forecast to produce 23 million tonnes of paddy in the main harvest season, which will gradually enter the market from late September onward.

Since the May 2014 coup, 8.6 million tonnes of rice has been sold in 18 auctions, fetching 89 billion baht. Government-to-government rice deals have unloaded an estimated 3.8 million tonnes worth 50 billion baht.

The government-to-government rice deals exclude August's winning bid to supply the Philippines with 100,000 tonnes, 25% of which are due for delivery this month or early November.

The National Rice Policy Committee, chaired by the premier, last month also approved measures to prod farmers to delay rice sales.

The measures include 1,000 baht per rai in cash handouts to rice farmers, plus a 4% interest rate subsidy worth a combined 1.24 billion baht to millers and agricultural cooperatives that agree to hold rice in their warehouses for six months.

According to Mrs Duangporn, Thailand, as of Oct 18, has shipped 7.9 million tonnes, down 8.1% year-on-year from the same period last year, with an export value of 126 billion baht, down 8.4%.

In a bid to stimulate year-end rice sales, the Foreign Trade Department is scheduled to lead Thai public and private delegations to visit key rice potential buyers such as Indonesia and Malaysia in November.

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