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Ministry calls for rice stock selloff.

The Commerce Ministry plans to accelerate the sale of 17 million tonnes of stockpiled rice and recapture the Thai Hom Mali rice market in Hong Kong by next year.

Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said yesterday the ministry hopes to regain Thailand's position as the No.1 Hom Mali rice exporter in Hong Kong after losing its market position to Vietnam due to the steep price of Thai rice this year.

The ministry has proposed a rice sales framework for 2015 to be considered by the National Rice Policy and Management Committee.

The framework would vary prices according to rice quality. A different criterion will be applied to low-quality rice to quickly sell off the remaining stocks. It also proposes selling entire rice stockpiles to increase the efficiency of rice management.

Of the 17 million tonnes of rice, 14 million are substandard, according to the Commerce Ministry. About 700,000 tonnes are rotten and 200,000 tonnes were lost.

Only 10% is of good quality, according to the National Rice Policy and Management Committee's report, Gen Chatchai said.

The ministry will work with rice mill operators, rice exporters and rice growers to discuss "suitable" market prices to ensure a fair return for farmers.

The National Rice Policy and Management Committee backs ministry plans to sell 400,000 tonnes of rice this month. About 350,000 tonnes were sold previously.

The ministry is drafting a plan to boost rice consumption.

On Dec 18, Gen Chatchai and Agriculture Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya plan to inspect Hom Mali paddy fields in Yasothon to persuade local farmers to grow high-quality rice.

Aside from rice strategy, the ministry is calling on Thailand to increase border trade ahead of the Asean Economic Community, fostering better agricultural product management and improving livelihoods.

It is also encouraging trade with new overseas markets after successful negotiations with Turkey, Bahrain and Pakistan.

Source:  Bangkok Post

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