BANGKOK, Sept 3 Thailand, the world's biggest
rice exporter, will renew its intervention policy in October
after the current scheme expires, aiming to buy up to 25 million
tonnes of paddy to shore up prices, a senior government official
said on Monday.
"The rice committee has agreed on the plan. We expect to
spend around 400 billion baht and this plan is due to be
submitted for cabinet approval soon," the permanent secretary of
the Ministry of Commerce, Yanyong Puangrach, told reporters.
This figure is equivalent to $12.77 billion.
He said the new scheme would run from October 2012 through
September 2013 to cover both major crop, second crop and
Under the scheme, the government would continue to pay
farmers at 15,000 baht per tonne for white rice paddy, he added.
Industry officials said the target to buy 25 million tonnes
of paddy would equate to around 80 percent of the country's
annual rice output of around 30 million to 32 million tonnes.
Besides the target of 25 million tonnes it aims to buy, the
government holds 17 million tonnes of paddy, or about 10 million
tonnes of milled rice in stocks, which it has bought from
farmers since October 2011.
Traders and exporters were not surprised, saying the
government had vowed to continue with the policy, no matter how
much it could cost.
"We have nothing to do with the policy. What we do now is to
try to survive amid this situation," said Charoen Laothammatas,
president of Uthai Produce.
Thailand exported 4.3 million tonnes of rice so far this
year, down 46 percent from the same period of last year, because
the intervention scheme pushed Thai prices to uncompetitive
levels versus rice from Vietnam and India.
Exporters said Thai rice export was expected to fall sharply
further and more Thai exporters would move to invest in
neighbouring countries, such as Cambodia and Myanmar, to seek
cheaper rice and export from there.
($1=31.3350 Thai baht)
(Reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat; Editing by Alan
Raybould and Clarence Fernandez)