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400,000 tonnes for fourth rice auction.

The government is scheduled to put up almost 400,000 tonnes of its rice stocks for the fourth auction on Dec 22. On hand will be mainly broken rice, which is believed to be in strong demand.

Banjongjit Angsusingh, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the working panel overseeing the government's rice sales agreed to auction off 398,346 tonnes of rice from 84 warehouses nationwide.

Of that amount, broken rice will make up 330,000 tonnes, glutinous rice 52,000 tonnes, 5% white rice 12,039 tonnes and 25% white rice the rest.

Ms Banjoingjit insists all the grains put on auction will be of good quality, as certified by the Commerce Ministry. The ministry sold a combined 348,836 tonnes in the first three  auctions, raising 3.6 billion baht.

After halting rice sales to carry out nationwide inspections, the government resumed sales of 167,000 tonnes on Aug 7.

Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said the government pledged to accelerate efforts to sell as many of the remaining 17 million tonnes of state rice stocks as possible next year.

A new roadmap will soon be submitted to the National Rice Policy Committee to facilitate disposal of the government's rice stockpile.

Following the nationwide rice stock inspection, authorities are now in the process of classifying rice grades.

Selling is expected to be easier once authorities complete grading of the rice, as they can then sell the stocks based on grade.

The government is also committed to selling as much of the rice as possible via government-to-government (G-to-G) contracts.

Several potential buyers including Hong Kong and Iraq are reportedly interested.

The Foreign Trade Department earlier said the government expected to deliver 900,000 to 1 million tonnes of rice this year through G-to-G contracts.

Thailand has so far shipped more than 700,000 tonnes through G-to-G deals, mainly to China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Talks to sell more rice from state stocks are also under way with several African and Middle East countries.

Gen Chatchai said the Commerce Ministry would work more closely with millers, exporters and farmers to discuss evening out the rice pricing structure and ensure farmers fetch the prices promised by the ministry.

Thailand exported 8.77 million tonnes of rice in the first 10 months of this year, fetching 140 billion baht. Export volume rose by 62.4% year-on-year and value by 27%.

Source: Bangkok Post

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