ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Floods hit Thai rice paddies
Floods have already damaged about 700,000 tons of paddy but the final tally could be 6-7 million tons, says the Thai Commerce Ministry.
However, the impact on exports of Thai rice this year is expected to be limited and the country will still be able to export 11 million tons of rice, said Yanyong Phuangrach, the ministry's permanent secretary.
The Agriculture Ministry reported total damage of 10 million rai of cultivated areas, of which 8 million are paddy, meaning rice production could be cut by 6-7 million tonnes. Prior to the floods, Thailand expected main-crop paddy production of 25 million tonnes to enter the government's paddy mortgage scheme. Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit and Suphan Buri are among the affected provinces.
Mr Yanyong said he hoped traders and the public would understand that supplies will be reduced and prices may rise.
"We have to understand that farmers usually cultivate two crops of paddy, but they will only get income from one crop this year because of the floods."
Though some have speculated that Thai rice exports would be affected, Mr Yanyong is still optimistic the country can export 11 million tonnes this year.
Thailand has already shipped 9 million tonnes this year. He admitted the price of Thai rice has increased, but not so high as to affect orders.
"There are some problems in transporting rice to the port due to the floods but demand for Thai rice is still high."
He noted India had exported only 10,000 tonnes of rice, after an earlier announcement it would export 2 million. India exports mainly to Pakistan, which is not a main market for Thailand, which is increasingly focusing on Africa.
Thai white rice is around US$600 a tons, while Vietnamese rice is at $570. Mr Yanyong said traditional customers were still buying Thai rice, such as the Ivory Coast, which is likely to purchase over 200,000 tons this year.
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