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Thai rice trade is not about go down the tube, as some have forecast

Re: A mountain ready to crumble (Letters, 12th April).

My decision to highlight some encouraging news relating to the government's well intentioned but ill-conceived rice-pledging scheme provoked a rather agitated response from Niels Jeffreys.

However, his letter shows that one can react to a crisis in two ways. Either one can throw abuse and intemperate criticism in all directions, and adopt a wholly negative "we are all doomed" outlook, or one can face a crisis head on - keep cool and carry on and work hard to overcome the challenges and problems, no matter how insurmountable they seem.

Fortunately for the reputation of Thailand and its rice industry, the responsible ministers and officials have adopted the latter approach, and their sterling efforts may now be paying off in the shape of renewed interest from international buyers.

Former large-scale purchasers of Thai rice such as Iraq, China and the USA, amongst others, have no doubt been unsettled by the adverse publicity surrounding the scheme and surely also by malicious or ill-informed reports of stockpiles containing rotten, tainted and substandard rice.

These fears now seem to have been allayed, which certainly is good news. Thai rice is regaining its international reputation for quality, and further substantial orders will hopefully follow.

Yes the scheme will need to be thoroughly reviewed, and yes, it is incurring huge losses, but it does not now look as though it will end in the doomsday scenario predicted by some.

Robin Grant

Bangkok


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