Rice rallies on hot China demand

Rice rallies on hot China demand

Farmers urged to grow more soft white paddy, grains

Thailand is expected to produce 30.53 million tonnes of paddy in the 2018/2019 season, up 3.45% from the previous year as demand grows, the National Rice Policy Committee said Thursday.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the commerce permanent secretary, said the government forecast for paddy demand for export is 14.69 million tonnes (or 9.545 million tonnes of milled rice), with domestic consumption estimated at 12 million tonnes, industrial use 2.4 million tonnes and seed stock 1.39 million tonnes.

Demand for hom mali fragrant rice is estimated at 6.419 million tonnes, with that for Thai general aromatic rice at 1.609 million tonnes and white rice 15.323 million tonnes. Glutinous paddy and special varieties like organic and indigenous grain make up the remainder.

The government must forecast demand annually and then assign state agencies to encourage farmers to grow rice accordingly under the latest policy on rice management.

Mrs Nuntawan said more demand is anticipated for soft white rice, especially from China. As such, she said, the Agriculture Ministry needs to persuade farmers to grow more soft grains.

The ministry has also been tasked with promoting large-scale farmland and special rice production such as premium hom mali rice, organic rice and other special grains.

Mrs Nuntawan said the committee has approved measures to stabilise rice prices in fiscal 2018/2019. These include incentives to farmers to delay selling their produce and traders to delay exports.

The committee also okayed additional measures to encourage farmers to build their own rice barns. More details are not yet available.

The committee also approved selling 44,000 tonnes of rice stocks for human consumption by April or May. The rice was either not accepted by the Corrections Department or rejected by the winning bidders. Some 2.04 million tonnes remain in stock.

Of the total, 1.5 million tonnes are fit for animal feed while 500,000 tonnes are considered inedible for animals, meaning it is suitable for fuel or energy production.

She said the committee will consider when to call bids for the inedible stock later. The warehouse costs of 120-130 million baht a month are considered a drain on government funds.

A bidding plan will be proposed to the committee on March 29, said Mrs Nuntawan. The plan should not affect the market as the stocks are of lower quality.

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