August 13, 2014 01:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
ABOUT 3 MILLION tonnes of rice out of the government's overall stockpile of 18 million tonnes is below standard, said a source from a committee charged with checking the stocks.
Much of the substandard rice could, however, still be sold for quality adjustment or for use by non-consumption sectors.
The panel reported its findings last week after checking about 90 per cent of the rice in the government’s stockpiles.
The full inspection procedure will be concluded by the end of the month.
Commenting on the interim findings, Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said it was not beyond expectation that up to 3 million tonnes of rice had deteriorated in quality.
However, he said the government could still sell this below-standard produce to rice traders, as well as to non-consumption industries, because there was still good demand for rice.
For substandard rice, Chookiat suggested that the ministry should sell it to general traders, but it would have to accept a low price because the traders would need to spend money on improving the quality, which entails polishing and sorting the grain. Such quality improvement costs about Bt2,500-Bt3,000 per tonne.
For poorer-quality rice that it is not suitable for human consumption, he suggested that the government should sell it for feed meal, or for other industrial uses.
For poor-quality or seriously damaged rice, the government may be unable to sell those stocks at all because it has to file cases with the courts about such produce, said the rice-panel source.
Rice millers or the owners of warehouses at which damaged rice has been found will be sued under contract for not keeping the rice in good condition.
PTT and Bangchak Petroleum had previously offered to buy damaged rice for ethanol production.