Rice sector agrees to cut production

Rice sector agrees to cut production

Rice farmers, millers and exporters have agreed to government plans to cut production in the 2016-17 crop year and encourage farmers to grow other lucrative crops in the dry season.

After a meeting yesterday, commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said all parties had agreed to plans to slash output in the crop year to only 25 million tonnes of paddy to make it compliant with domestic and global demand. That amount of paddy will translate to 16.5 million tonnes of milled rice.

Thailand usually produces 30 million tonnes of paddy or 19.8 million tonnes of milled rice -- half for domestic consumption and half for export.

The US Agriculture Department this month estimated global rice production for the 2015-16 season at 470 million tonnes, 0.8 million tonnes more than last month's projection.

Production last year is estimated at 478 million tonnes, so this year's estimate will represent a 1.67% decline in global production.

Ms Chutima said paddy prices were expected to stay unchanged this year at 7,500 to 8,000 baht a tonne, while Thailand would export only 9 million tonnes, 60-70% of which would be newly harvested grain.

"The Commerce and Agriculture ministries will set guidelines to help farmers and advise them to grow other lucrative crops or shift to other jobs," she said.

Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, urged the authorities to step up educating and convincing farmers to manage their production as agreed.

"We plan to cut production to only 25 million tonnes of paddy this season, but rice exports will not suffer," he said.

Mr Charoen said the government was expected to sell about 5 million tonnes of its rice stocks this year, with 2-3 million tonnes sold for domestic consumption.

Suthep  Kongmark, president of the Thai Agriculturists Association, said farmers agreed to the plan after the government had provided much assistance in recent years.

"The government's comprehensive rice management plans should be continued, while government support for farmers to grow other crops should be done in a sustainable manner," he said.

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