BANGKOK: Thailand will sell 570,000 tonnes of rice from government stockpiles for human consumption and industrial use, the commerce ministry said on Monday. Thailand, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter after India, has stocks of about 13 million tonnes following the rice-buying scheme under the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra that cost the state billions of dollars and ended in 2014.
Bidding for the rice, the military government’s first sale this year from its huge stockpiles, will take place on February 16 and 17, commerce ministry permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara told reporters.
“The government has allowed the commerce ministry to auction 570,000 tonnes of rice from stocks because the rice situation facilitates the offloading of rice,” said Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department at the Commerce Ministry, which oversees rice stock sales. Duangporn spoke to reporters after Chutima.
Warehouses storing the rice will be open for inspection from February 2 to 10, said Duangporn. The first lot for auction will be “good grade” rice for human consumption and the second lot would be Grade C for industrial use, said Chutima when speaking to reporters. The size of the first auction of “good rice” will be about 204,000 tonnes while the second lot will be about 360,000 tonnes, Chutima clarified in a statement later.
The military government has struggled to draw down the rice stockpiles built up under the previous administration since some of the rice has degraded. With the rice unfit for human consumption, the inventories are harder to auction. The current government has said it plans to clear the stocks by 2017.
The government began selling rice last year deemed unfit for human and animal consumption for use in the industrial sector, including ethanol production. In her earlier comments, Chutima said that rice paddy, or unmilled rice, from the 2015-2016 crop year had nearly all reached the market, meaning that the government can start releasing rice from stockpiles again. “We can start releasing rice in stockpiles as this does not affect the price of paddy,” she said.