Hangars may become rice warehouses, if feasible

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BANGKOK, Oct 9 – Faced with storage problems for large amounts of rice which are being purchased at more than market rates, Thailand’s Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO) and Transport Ministry will together inspect aircraft hangars at airports nationwide to determine if they can be turned into warehouses to stockpile rice.

PWO deputy director Somsak Wongwatanasarn said today that the airport survey is in light of an earlier proposal by former transport minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, now defence minister, that unoccupied hangars in some provincial airports may be suitable for stockpiling paddy from the government’s rice pledging scheme, if necessary.

He said a thorough hangar-to-warehouse study is needed to ensure the acceptability of each structure which will have to accommodate tens of thousands of tonnes of rice.

“If the hangar structure is unsuitable or if it negatively affects aviation, we will suspend the move,” he said, noting that rice stocks normally attract flies, insects and rodents.

He gave assurances that PWO-owned warehouses are still capable of stocking rice and the airport survey is merely in response to the Transport Ministry’s proposal.

Mr Somsak said the warehouse organisation is ready to stock additional paddy from next year’s rice pledging scheme despite rice from this year’s harvest still stored in PWO warehouses.

Private millers are allowed to join the plan, he said.