Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom has stressed that the Thai rice situation was not worrisome, saying that the volume of Thai rice exports in 2012 was likely to be the same as that recorded in 2010 and 2009.
Mr. Boonsong spoke about the rice situation in the program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” broadcast on Radio Thailand and NBT Television on 28 July 2012.
Referring to news reports that Thai rice exports in the first six months of 2012 dropped by 40 per cent from a year earlier, the Commerce Minister said that, between January and July this year, Thailand exported about 3.8 million tons of rice. The figure is not low at all. Based on this figure, Thai exports for the whole year are expected to reach 7.6 million tons.
He said that significant growth in Thai rice exports was seen in 2011, at about 10 million tons. Before 2011, the annual volume of Thai rice exports was around eight to nine million tons on average.
Mr. Boonsong revealed that the Government was in the process of negotiating rice exports with certain countries on a government-to-government basis. So he believed that Thailand would be able to export between eight and nine million tons of rice in 2012. The figure is close to that of 2010 and 2009.
He urged the people not to be too worried about the chance that Thailand might lose its status as the world's number one rice exporter. In his view, the important point is how to provide farmers with better living conditions.
Mr. Boonsong quoted one of the Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s urgent policies that the Government would raise the people’s standards of living and prices of agricultural products. Toward this aim, he said, the Government has come up with the rice mortgage scheme, which was proven successful, as the paddy price had been raised to more than 10,000 baht a ton, a rate that satisfies farmers. He said that when farmers earned more from their rice production, they would be able to ease their debts and improve their quality of life.
Commenting on the high export price of Thai rice, the Commerce Minister said that Thai rice is recognized for its good quality, especially Hom Mali rice, or Thai jasmine rice. Hom Mali rice is very popular among international consumers and it is also in great demand overseas.
He stated that Thailand had applied with the European Union for geographical indication protection for Hom Mali rice from Thung Kula Ronghai, or Weeping Prairie, in northeastern Thailand. During his recent visit to Germany and France with Prime Minister Yingluck, Mr. Boonsong said that he had raised the issue for discussion with the trade ministers of the two countries by urging them to support the geographical indication registration of Hom Mali rice. He added that his discussion with Cambodia and Vietnam on rice trade cooperation had also received a positive response.