Bidders flock to rice auction
The first general auction of state rice stocks in 2017 drew active interest, with 48 qualified bidders offering the highest prices for 2.03 million tonnes of rice at 18.58 billion baht.
According to Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, hom mali fragrant rice attracted the most interest, accounting for 26.1% of the total or 745,236 tonnes, followed by white rice 5% at 479,761 tonnes or 16.8%.
The Foreign Trade Department announced on Jan 10 a call for a general auction for the remaining 2.87 million tonnes fit for human consumption. The stocks are kept in 274 state warehouses in 17 provinces. Interested bidders were allowed to observe the rice stocks during Feb 6-10.
Qualified bidders were scheduled to submit their bids yesterday, with the names of the winners to be announced on the same day.
But the department on Feb 14 ordered the auction of 4,784 tonnes of hom mali rice at warehouses in Nakhon Sawan to be scrapped, as requested by the Public Warehouse Organisation.
Mrs Duangporn said the department would later submit the results of the auction to the panel handling state rice stocks and the national rice policy committee for final approval.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said last month that the government wanted to dispose of its existing rice stocks this year. Most of the existing 8 million tonnes are white rice, 5 million tonnes of which is poor-quality grain unfit for human consumption.
The remaining 2.87 million tonnes was mixed grade in quality and suitable for human consumption.
The Commerce Ministry is in talks with the Energy and Industry ministries to find industrial purposes for the inedible stocks, such as biomass and ethanol production.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association forecast last month Thai rice exports were expected to drop by 3.8% in volume this year, with export prices likely to stay relatively low because of higher global supply and stiffer competition.
The shipments should reach 9.5 million tonnes this year, fetching US$4.3 billion or 150 billion baht, the association said.
Of the total export volume, 4.6 million tonnes is forecast to be white rice, 2.4 million tonnes hom mali rice, 2 million tonnes parboiled rice and the rest glutinous and broken rice.