Thai Hom Mali nets rice prize
The nation's staple voted world's best rice at the 12th World Rice Conference.
Thai Hom Mali fragrant rice has given Thai exports a major boost by regaining the world champion status it last held in 2017.
The 12th annual World Rice Conference, organised virtually by the US-based trade publication Rice Trader, announced that Thai Hom Mali rice had seen off rivals from five countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, China and the US.
Thai Hom Mali was dethroned in 2018 by Malys Angkor, a premium fragrant variety from Cambodia and in 2019 it saw the title go to ST24, a premium rice hailing from Vietnam's Soc Trang province.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said on Friday the award would benefit not only farmers, but also Thailand's entire rice trading industry and future exports, as it attested to the quality of the country's staple grain.
"The World Rice Conference has held 12 contests and Thailand has won the first prize six times. That guarantees Thai rice is the best in the world," he said.
The minister said the Thai government had vowed to strengthen Thailand's reputation as the world's best producer of quality rice through a marketing campaign that would run from 2020-2024.
Under the five-year strategy Thailand is accelerating the development of 12 new rice varieties, including four hard-textured varieties of white rice, four varieties of soft-textured white rice, two varieties of Thai hom mali fragrant rice and two varieties of high-nutrition rice.
"If we could develop more rice varieties and eliminate red tape and regulations that still hinder our development, Thai rice can hold on to this title for many years," said Mr Jurin.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, says Thailand is expected to ship only 5.7-5.8 million tonnes this year but the figure will rise to 7 million in 2021.
Thailand has exported 5.1 million tonnes so far in 2020, down 28% from the same period in 2019, with total sales of 108 billion baht, down 11%.