Rice farmers to flourish

Rice farmers to flourish

State stockpile shackles removed as import demand strengthens

A scarecrow in a rice field in Khon Kaen, one of the provinces that was hit hard by drought in August and September. Photo: Thiti Wannamontha
A scarecrow in a rice field in Khon Kaen, one of the provinces that was hit hard by drought in August and September. Photo: Thiti Wannamontha

Rice farmers are expected to enjoy higher rice prices in the 2018-19 harvest, thanks to robust import demand and the lack of huge state stockpiles.

Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, who yesterday met with representatives of farmers and state agencies, said overall paddy production for the annual harvest season, which began in late October, is estimated at 33.42 million tonnes of paddy.

Demand for both domestic consumption and exports is expected to top 34.03 million tonnes of paddy, Mr Whichai said.

About 900,000 tonnes of milled rice is awaiting delivery by this year’s end, he said.

“With the absence of the government’s massive rice stocks, which put pressure on the world rice market, and strong purchase demand, we expect this year’s annual harvest season to fetch higher income for farmers,” Mr Whichai said. “The prices of hom mali fragrant rice, in particular, are set to rise significantly due to lower production during droughts.”

Hom mali fragrant rice production for the 2018-19 main crop is expected to drop by about 20% from the previous season because of drought in the North and Northeast.

Mr Whichai cited the latest joint survey by the Commerce Ministry and the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on rice planting in 16 provinces during August and September. The survey found that Thai premium rice production in the main plantation areas in the lower northeastern provinces such as Roi Et, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sri Sa Ket, Surin, Buri Ram, Khon Kaen and Chaiyaphum were hit hard by drought.

The price of 5% white rice paddy was quoted at 7,500-8,000 baht a tonne on Nov 1, up from 7,300-7,8000 baht in the same period of last year.

The price of hom mali rice paddy in the same period was 13,800-17,500 baht a tonne, up from 11,550-14,250 baht a year earlier.

Glutinous rice paddy fetched 9,000-10,000 baht a tonne, up from 7,000-11,300 baht last year.

“Despite supply flooding the market during November and December this year, we still expect farmers to get higher rice prices than last year for all varieties, as purchase orders from international buyers such as China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and African countries arrive on a continuous basis,” Mr Whichai said.

This year the government set a rice export target of 11 million tonnes.

Last year, Thailand exported a record 11.6 million tonnes of milled rice, up 17.4% year-on-year, fetching 174.5 billion baht, up 12.8%.

The top five importers of Thai rice were Benin, China, South Africa, Cameroon and the US.

Mr Whichai said that to stabilise rice prices as supply floods the market, the government has already introduced measures such as the loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales, a 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to hold stocks for 60-180 days, and a loan scheme for agriculture cooperatives to gather rice and create added value.

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