Commerce Ministry eyes using rotten rice as energy source

Economy December 20, 2016 01:00

By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE NATION

THE National Rice Policy Committee is soon to consider releasing about 5 million tonnes of deteriorated and rotten rice for alternative energy production to cut stockpiling costs.



Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department, said it would in early January propose to the committee that it consider ways to clear out the stockpiles, particularly rotten rice, which makes up about 5 million of the 8 million tonnes remaining in the government’s stocks.

The Commerce Ministry will discuss with the Energy Ministry the possibility of using some of this stockpiled rice to produce energy. The purchase price might be quite low, but it would cut down on the rice stocks and thereby save warehousing costs, which currently are Bt510 million per month or Bt17 million per day, Duangporn said.

She said low-grade rice should be completely cleared out of the government warehouses by the end of next year, while good-quality rice would be released through auctions.

The department will study laws and regulations regarding the use of stockpiled rice as an alternative energy source, and estimate the impact on other crops that can be used for this purpose.

Of the 5 million tonnes of deteriorated and rotten rice, most is old stocks that have been kept for more than five years, from the 2008-09 harvest season to the 2012-13 season.

As for the 3 million tonnes of rice that is still of good quality and suitable for human consumption, the government will continue to sell it to the market via auctions after the current main harvest season ends in February.

The government foresees improved rice exports next year on high demand in many markets such as China, which will import 100,000 tonnes of Thai rice in January and February.

The rice price next year should be stable or increase, Duangporn said.

This year, the Commerce Ministry expects rice exports will total more than 9.5 million tonnes, worth about US$4.26 billion (Bt153 billion).

As of December 14, Thailand had exported 9.3 tonnes of rice this year worth $4.17 billion. Major export markets were Benin, China, Ivory Coast and South Africa. 

About half of the exports were white rice, 25 per cent Hom Mali rice, and the rest parboiled rice, stocky rice and Pathum Thani rice.