Rice in govt stockpiles now to less than 10 million tonnes

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BANGKOK, Sept 2 – The Commerce Ministry confirmed that rice in state stockpiles, purchased from farmers under the rice pledging scheme, has fallen to less than 10 million tonnes.

Tikhumporn Natvaratat, Foreign Trade Department deputy director general, said rice in the stockpiles would have to be quickly released to prepare for the new round of subsidised rice, starting next month.

The government will buy rice from farmers at pledging prices of Bt15,000/tonne for the upcoming 2013/2014 crop and Bt13,000/tonne for the second crop.

Negotiations were underway to sell rice to Malaysia and a deal should be struck soon, while the Commerce Ministry would deliver 250,000 tonnes of rice to Iran next month, said Mr Tikhumporn.

He expressed confidence that the remaining rice would be released as targetted by the end of the year through five different methods – auction, government-to-government trade, the Agriculture Futures Exchange of Thailand, internal trade through varied agencies and direct purchase by the private sector.

He said foreign state enterprises and private companies would also be welcomed to directly buy rice from the Thai government.

The Commerce Ministry has so far paid Bt140 billion from the rice purchase to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. The targetted payment  is Bt220 billion.

He said Thailand exported 4.02 million tonnes of rice at an average price of US$700/tonne from January to August 26 – the historic volume which generated a total revenue of US$2.828 billion (Bt84 billion).

Mr Tikhumporn said the Commerce Ministry has sold over 200,000 tonnes of grain, including 100,000 tonnes of white rice and 120,000 tonnes of paddy, in the last three auctions.

The private sector was not enthusiastic with the biddings, and the Foreign Trade Department could not provide a wider variety of rice for auction, he said, promising to add more varieties to attract rice traders.