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New strategy aimed at selling rice stocks.

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

A committee source said it was expected to be implemented early next year.

"After the nationwide rice stock inspection has finished, authorities are now in the process of classifying rice grades, which is very difficult,'' the source said.

"This is because the state rice stocks in various warehouses nationwide are intermingled and mixed without a proper classification of the type of rice."

The government is estimated to control 18-19 million tonnes of rice accumulated from the rice pledging programme of the previous government.

Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said once authorities completed grading of the rice, selling would be easier, as they could sell stocks based on grade.

The government is also committed to selling as much of the rice stocks as possible via government-to-government (G-to-G) contracts, she said, adding that several potential buyers including Hong Kong and Iraq were interested in the rice.

The Foreign Trade Department earlier said the government expected to deliver 900,000 to 1 million tonnes of rice by year-end 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.

Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said the government would also call a new auction to sell rice stocks sometime this month, but the amount to be sold has not been disclosed.

The Commerce Ministry held a third round of state rice auctions for 270,000 tonnes in October, but results are not yet available.

The ministry sold 140,000 tonnes in the first two auctions, raising 1.6 billion baht. After halting rice sales to carry out nationwide inspections, the government resumed sales of 167,000 tonnes on Aug 7.

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

Source:  Bangkok Post

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