State clears nearly all of rice supply

State clears nearly all of rice supply

A government official checks the quality of rice stocks at a warehouse in Bangkok's Klong Sam Wa district. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
A government official checks the quality of rice stocks at a warehouse in Bangkok's Klong Sam Wa district. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

Eleven rice exporters and traders bid to buy almost all of the 160,000 tonnes of rice in government stocks yesterday, nearly clearing the more than 18 million tonnes of rice that had been stored in warehouses for three years.

Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department, said the total value of the 160,000 tonnes of rice offered at the auction will be worth about 1.1 billion baht if the state agrees to sell the entire lot.

The Commerce Ministry will recheck the qualifications of bidders and examine the prices they offered before submitting the bids for approval by the National Rice Committee.

The ministry is due to hold another auction soon to sell 2.6 million tonnes of inedible-grade rice.

The inedible rice is ageing and has been in stock since the start of the Yingluck Shinawatra government, which offered to buy rice from farmers at higher-than-market prices -- bringing in record-high state rice stocks of more than 18 million tonnes at a time when global rice supply outpaced demand.

The scheme created burdensome storage expenses and huge depreciation value.

"If we can open the last auction for the inedible rice soon, it will help cut the burdensome storage expense of 5 million baht a day, as we can sell off all the stock within July as planned," Mrs Duangporn said.

She said the clearance of state rice stocks this year would relieve pressure on Thai rice prices, which should be rising after several rice-importing and rice-producing countries were hit by bad weather, forcing them to seek staple stocks from Thailand.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka recently entered talks with Thailand for the urgent purchase of 400,000 tonnes of rice to replenish their falling stocks after being hit by severe drought and floods over the past few years.

Each country is seeking 200,000 tonnes, mostly of parboiled and common-grade white rice.

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