Rice panel eyes 6% increase in output
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Rice panel eyes 6% increase in output

A farmer harvests rice in a paddy field in Pathum Thani province. (Photo: Pongpat Wongyala)
A farmer harvests rice in a paddy field in Pathum Thani province. (Photo: Pongpat Wongyala)

The government's marketing-led production strategy calls for rice output of 29.3 million tonnes of paddy for the 2023/24 season.

According to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri, the first meeting of the National Rice Policy and Management Committee in 2023 chaired by the prime minister on Monday acknowledged a rice production plan for the 2023/24 season that is a 6% increase from 27.6 million tonnes the previous season.

Of the total production, some 15.6 million tonnes of paddy are estimated to be for domestic consumption, or 10.1 million tonnes of milled rice, with 5.72 million tonnes for general consumption and 4.40 million tonnes for industrial use.

Exports are estimated at 12.3 million tonnes of paddy or 8 million tonnes of milled rice, with another 1.41 million tonnes of paddy allocated for seed stock.

In addition, the committee has pledged to continue the national rice strategy which aims to reduce further production costs and increase average yields.

In 2024, the strategy aims to reduce rice production costs to not more than 3,000 baht per rai from 3,433 baht in 2022, with the average yield per rai to increase to 600 kilogrammes from 593 kg in 2022.

The rice strategy also aims to develop at least 12 new commercial rice varieties by 2024 to boost export competitiveness.

From the 2020 to 2022 crop years, the government already certified 12 new varieties, seven of which are hard-textured grains, three are soft textured, one is Thai fragrant rice and one is a high-nutrition type. These varieties are in high demand among global consumers.

According to Mr Anucha, the Rice Department is certifying two additional glutinous rice varieties, while planning to organise an annual contest for new commercial rice varieties, with the goal to hold an event once a year.

Demand for Thai rice in the international market remains strong, with Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit recently expecting exports to potentially increase to 8 million tonnes this year.

Last year, Thailand shipped 7.69 million tonnes of rice, outperforming the Commerce Ministry's target of 7.5 million tonnes.

Export volume increased by 22% from 6.3 million tonnes shipped in 2021, while the value in baht terms rose by 25.1% to 138 billion baht.

Meanwhile, the export value in dollar terms rose by 14.6% from the year before to US$3.97 billion.

Last year, Thailand was ranked the world's second-largest rice exporter after India, which exported 21.9 million tonnes.

Vietnam was third, with rice exports of 6.31 million tonnes.

Iraq was the largest importer of Thai rice, buying 1.6 million tonnes last year, up 458% from a year before.

South Africa came second, importing 775,000 tonnes (down 2.26%), followed by China at 750,000 tonnes (up 18.8%), the US at 650,000 tonnes (up 13.2%) and Benin at 321,000 tonnes (down 15.3%).

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