15 bidders for 2.07m tonnes of inedible state rice stocks

15 bidders for 2.07m tonnes of inedible state rice stocks

Substandard milled rice at a warehouse in Khlong Sam Wa district in Bangkok. The government is selling the rotten grain for industrial use. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Substandard milled rice at a warehouse in Khlong Sam Wa district in Bangkok. The government is selling the rotten grain for industrial use. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Fifteen bidders have proposed to a combined 2.07 million tonnes of inedible state rice stocks, which comprise 56% of the total 3.66 million tonnes of the grain unfit for human consumption put up for auction by the government.

According to Keerati Rushano, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, the proposed purchase would fetch about 9.2 billion baht, with white rice accounting for 1.56 million tonnes, broken rice 180,000 tonnes and other types making up the rest.

Mr Keerati said the department will submit the results of the bids on March 28 for vetting by the panel handling state rice stocks chaired by permanent secretary for commerce Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa.

The bids will then be submitted to the national rice policy committee for final approval.

The Commerce Ministry called the first auction for 3.66 million tonnes of inedible grain on March 7, with interested bidders invited to hear the terms of reference on March 10 and submit their bidding prices yesterday.

The state rice stocks to be sold for industrial use cover 17 types of poor-quality grains including hom mali fragrant rice, white rice, glutinous rice and broken rice stored across 278 state warehouses in 39 provinces.

According to Mr Keerati, the ministry is also scheduled to announce the terms of reference for the auction of 1.8 million tonnes of decaying rice stored over five years for ethanol production by April.

For the remaining 1.59 million tonnes of the grains unfit for human consumption, Mr Keerati said the ministry will call monthly auctions from May until they are sold out.

Since the May 2014 coup, 10.1 million tonnes of rice have been sold in 24 auctions, fetching 104 billion baht. State-held rice stocks have fallen by 6.5 million tonnes from the 18.7 million tonnes accumulated during 2011-14.

Mr Keerati said the government believes it will dispose of all rice stocks within this year as planned.

Between Jan 1 and March 21, Thailand exported 2.6 million tonnes, up 2.7% from the same period last year, worth 38 billion baht, down 1% in value. The government expects to be able to export over 9.5 million tonnes this year, slightly below last year's figures.

Charoen Laothammatas, president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, said he agrees with the government's plan to sell off state rice stocks within this year, as rice stocks stored for almost four years will see deteriorating quality and prices.

The state is burdened with 500 million baht in monthly expenses for warehouses.

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