Something sobering, Thai government supporting its rice farmers

As news spread that the Vietnamese had overtaken Thailand in rice exports, the Thai government reinforced its plans to claim the No.2 spot back.  

Such urgency is uncommon especially if it relates to smallholder farmers.

Currently, India was the leading rice exporter globally ahead at 9.77 million tonnes, now followed by Vietnam at 6.37 million tonnes respectively.

In the past 7 months, Vietnam exported nearly 4 million MT of rice, “reaching about USD 2 billion, increasing by 11% and 1.5% in terms of value and volume” confirmed Tridge Market Intelligence.

The Vietnam Food Association had released a statement notifying its members of Thai government’s position of changing policies on rice exports. It said that the Thai’s government change of policy on rice exports was to focus on marketing, reducing production costs and researching new rice varieties.

Thai government’s plans come after its rice exports dropped to 7.58 million mainly as result of drought and economic slowdown (due to COVID-19 outbreak). As a response, Thailand’s National Rice Policy and Management Committee (NRPMC) approved the income insurance for around 4 million rice farmers, for the production season beginning in July 2020 – May 2021.

“Of the expected THB 85.2 billion (USD 2.8 billion) budget allocation, THB 23.5 billion (USD 760.7 million) would be channelled through price guarantees; THB 56 billion (USD 1.8 billion) to support farm management and quality development costs, as part of a rice production enhancement project; and THB 30.3 billion (USD 980.7 billion) to subsidised interest rates for loans extended to encourage stockpiling” said the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) in its July market monitor report.

As it stands, Thailand was considering cultivating five rice varieties ranging from flavoured rice, homologous rice, special rice, sticky rice and white rice. With the income insurance granted to its 4 million rice farmers, it targeted to take advantage of the global rice stock which is expected to increase to 184.18 million tonnes at the end of 2020-2021.

Such a sobering clear strategy by the Thai government after loss of market share, demonstrates the importance of all farmers contribution to an economy. Something visibly lacking in the South African agricultural marketing system.

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