Sharp rise in rice exports anticipated for 2023

Sharp rise in rice exports anticipated for 2023

Farmers dry their newly-harvested paddy rice. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)
Farmers dry their newly-harvested paddy rice. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)

Thailand is projected to end the year with rice exports reaching 8.6-8.7 million tonnes, marking an increase from the 7.69 million tonnes recorded last year.

The estimated export value is 140-150 billion baht, up from the 138 billion baht recorded in 2022.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, the honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Thailand is expected to have exported about 900,000 tonnes of rice in November, and is set to export 800,000-900,000 tonnes in December now major importers are continuing to buy Thai rice to compensate for reduced domestic rice production and to stockpile for the end of this year and the beginning of 2024.

According to Mr Chookiat, the overall global rice market remains tight thanks to rice export restrictions imposed by India and higher global rice prices.

"A great deal of Thai rice is scheduled to be delivered by the year-end, be it in Asia to countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan, regular buyers in regions like Africa, the Middle East, and the US, or countries that don't traditionally buy Thai rice such as Brazil," said Mr Chookiat. "During this period, as Thailand's new-season rice production has increased in the market and Thai rice prices are competitive, this has lead rice importers to turn to purchase more Thai rice."

As of Nov 29 this year, the price of Thai 5% white rice was quoted at US$640 per tonne, whereas the prices of Vietnamese and Pakistani 5% white rice are in a range of $663-667 and $598-602 per tonne, respectively.

As for Thai parboiled rice, the price is $640 per tonne at present, while the price ranges of Indian and Pakistani parboiled rice stand at $498-502 and $546-550 per tonne, respectively.

"Next year, the association has set an export target of only 7.5 million tonnes, as the possibility of India resuming rice exports in the latter half of the year is anticipated," Mr Chookiat said.

"On resuming exports, it's possible for India to contribute to a reduction in the global rice market prices," he said, adding that there are still other factors that could have an impact, including the El Niño phenomenon, on global rice production.

The El Niño issue remains a concern, particularly concerning factors associated with India, which will need to be closely monitored in the coming year, said Mr Chookiat.

In a move aimed at maintaining price stability in the country, the veteran exporter advised the Thai government to focus more on investing in research and development for new rice varieties that are disease-resistant, have higher yields of over one tonne per rai, and have a harvesting period of fewer than 90 days.

The yield per rai in Thailand is significantly lower compared with the average level of competing countries, standing at 478 kilogrammes per rai in 2021. This compares with 972 kg per rai in Vietnam, and 1,199 kg per rai in China.

For the first 10 months (January-October 2023), rice exports hit 6.92 million tonnes, worth 136 billion baht, according to customs data.

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