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Last updated: 5 Jul 2011

Rice exports to get a boost this year

The Nation Published on January 8, 2011

Thailand's rice export volume is expected to reach 9 million to 9.5 million tonnes, valued at US$5.3 billion to $5.6 billion (Bt150 billion to Bt158 billion), with lower stockpiles and a plan to promote high ervalue added grains.

The Commerce Ministry yesterday reported that Thailand had shipped out a total of 9.03 million tonnes of rice worth Bt5.308 billion last year, up 5.10 per cent in volume and 5.59 per cent in value. However, export income in baht terms fell by 2.45 per cent to Bt167.51 billion because of the stronger currency.

Exports last year were higher than the ministry's targeted 8.5 million to 9 million tonnes because of lower production in many countries due to climate change.

"Thailand will continue to preserve its position as the world's largest rice exporter by maintaining export volume at not less than 9 million tonnes a year," said Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai.
"The country will try to increase export income by focusing on promoting highgrade varieties such as jasmine rice, parboiled rice, and rice with geographical indication [GI] that can generate better returns."

She said that although Vietnam had boosted its export volume last year to 6.7 million tonnes, the export value - $3.23 billion - was much lower than Thailand's, as Vietnam mostly focused on white rice.

As of last year, Thailand had a 30percent market share in the global rice trade, followed by Vietnam at 22 per cent.

Nigeria is the largest importer of Thai rice with 15.93 per cent, followed by Ivory Coast 7.36 per cent, South Africa 6.73 per cent, the Philippines 6.36 per cent and Benin 5.79 per cent.

The ministry expects the price of rice to go up this year because of the impact from climate change, hikes in other commodity prices, and lower stockpiles globally and in Thailand.

Thailand last year released 4.6 million tonnes from the government's warehouses. The country maintains only 1 million tonnes as buffer stock at present.

To ensure Thailand's status as the world's leading exporter, the government has a plan to promote rice in markets that demand high volumes, and also to markets that demand highvalueadded varieties.

Under its promotion plan, the ministry will cooperate with importers in targeted markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and mainland China for drafting a marketing plan to promote Thai rice.

Parboiled rice

The ministry will also conduct roadshows in targeted countries such as Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Yanyong Phuangrach, permanent secretary to the ministry, said the government would encourage exports of parboiled rice this year as it can help generate better income. Thai exporters have high expertise to produce and export this grain.

"Export of parboiled rice this year should account for 50 per cent of the total export volume, from last year's 40 per cent. And the likelihood of India continuing its riceexport ban will increase opportunities for Thai rice," he said, adding that other rivals such as Vietnam had lower competency to produce parboiled rice.

The price of parboiled rice is now quoted at $558 a tonne, while 5percent white rice is at $530 a tonne.

Manus Soiploy, directorgeneral of the Foreign Trade Department, said Thailand might achieve exports of up to 11 million tonnes of rice this year if the world faces serious natural disasters. The government will also further sell rice under governmenttogovernment contracts this year. Primarily, about 300,000 tonnes will be soon released under GtoG contracts.

Posted: 01 July 2011, last updated 5 July 2011

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