BANGKOK, May 16 – Thailand’s sugarcane production hit a record high this year, in contrast to the slump in sugar prices, a senior official said today.
Somsak Suwatika, secretary general of the Cane and Sugar Office, said the global sugar price has declined to 16 US cents per pound, the lowest in 34 years, while the strong baht has affected sales for the entire cane and sugar industries.
This year’s domestic sugarcane production reached 100 million tonnes, higher than the original prediction of 94 million tonnes, due to expanded farming areas in the Northeast, he said.
However, sugarcane productivity has declined from 12 tonnes per rai to 10 tonnes per rai and the efficiency of sugar production has reduced from 12 Commercial Cane Sugar (CCS) to 11.6 CCC. CCS is the process of determining sugarcane quality.
The lower quality will affect Thailand’s competitiveness and prices in the next harvest, he said, adding that the sugar price structure will have to be adjusted in accord with those of the ASEAN Economic Community.
He said the higher yield of sugarcane has compelled the Sugarcane and Sugar Fund to increase its borrowing from the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) from Bt15 billion to Bt16 billion – a move which will create more interest burden to the fund.
The cabinet earlier assigned the fund to seek loans from the BAAC to pay sugarcane farmers an extra Bt160 per tonne. Farmers sold their sugarcane at Bt950 per tonne early this year.