Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Thailand to cooperate with neighbours on rice trade

via CAAI

Published on March 9, 2011

To achieve its goal of making Thailand a rice-trading centre, the Commerce Ministry has drawn up a plan to cooperate with Burma and Cambodia, as both countries have high competency as supply sources to Thailand.

Meanwhile, the Thai government will directly purchase 2 million tonnes of paddy rice from farmers on March 16 as part of its strategy to shore up rice prices.

A senior source from the ministry said Thailand would tighten cooperation on rice trading with Burma and Cambodia by help them export rice overseas. However, the country will not import their rice to the Kingdom, but will set up polishing plants in border provinces, as Thailand has high expertise in rice polishing.

"Many Vietnamese and other foreign rice traders have tried to purchase rice from Burma and Cambodia, as it is good-quality but low-priced. Thailand will help both nations develop their rice polishing and exports to emphasise Thailand as a centre of rice trading," said the source.

The Cambodian government has called for Thailand's cooperation to halt decreases in its rice price after traders from Vietnam purchased rice from that country at very low prices. Cooperation with Thailand should increase the bargaining power for Cambodian farmers and traders, the source said.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honourable president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, has supported the government's plan to tighten cooperation with Burma and Cambodia. However, the government must ensure that it will prevent Thai rice seeds getting mixed up with other seeds, as that would destroy the reputation of Thai rice as having the best quality.

In addition, he said the government should concentrate on development of the quality of Thai rice and on reducing production costs rather than increasing its price guarantee.

Chookiat said the rice price had dropped slightly because of increased supply from Vietnam. Thai rice farmers will only enjoy a short-term benefit from increasing the guaranteed price of rice. The government should seek ways to help farmers reduce their costs of production and increase yield per rai in the long run.

The association reported the export price for 5-per-cent Thai white rice had dropped slightly from US$520-$530 a tonne last week to $510 (Bt15,490) a tonne this week.

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