Inedible rice bids cancelled for now
With newly harvested rice entering the market, the government yesterday agreed to put off a sales plan for inedible-grade rice stocks to next year.
According to Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the commerce permanent secretary, the national rice policy committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave the nod for the Commerce Ministry to postpone sales of existing rice stocks -- estimated at 1.5 million tonnes and entirely of substandard and inedible quality -- until next year to prevent any psychological impact on prices for the newly harvested crop.
"The ministry reported to the meeting that all quality rice stocks have been sold out, leaving only the ones that are not in the inedible grade and fit only for industrial use," Mrs Nuntawan said. "Nevertheless, the government is confident of disposing of all stocks next year."
The Commerce Ministry was tasked with handling state rice sales. In 2015 it vowed to dispose of 17 million tonnes of rice left in its stockpiles, mostly amassed by previous governments through subsidy schemes, within two years.
According to Mrs Nuntawan, about 1 million tonnes of the existing rice supply consists of low-quality grains that are fit for animal feed production. The remaining 500,000 tonnes is not fit for humans or animals and could only be used for alternative energy production.
The Commerce Ministry also reported that global rice production in 2017 is estimated at 483.8 million tonnes of milled rice, down by 3.3 million tonnes.
For the first 10 months, the world's rice exports amounted to 44 million tonnes, up by 4 million tonnes from the same period last year. Of the total, Thailand made up the highest export amount with 9.22 million tonnes.
The ministry expects Thailand to be able to maintain the pace of rice exports in the fourth quarter, boosted by the world's greater rice demand.
"The world's demand for Thai rice remains strong for the final quarter," Mrs Nuntawan said. "The ministry is fully upbeat that Thailand's rice exports will top 10.8 million tonnes at the end of this year."
The forecast of 10.8 million tonnes is well above the 9.9 million exported in 2016 and 9.8 million in 2015, and just lower than the 2014 record high of 10.9 million.