ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand plans to boost rice production
The country currently produces about 30 million tons of rice each year, equivalent to about 18 million tons of milled rice. Domestic consumption is about 8 million tons and the remainder is intended for export.
“We succeeded in developing a new hybrid rice strain that produces higher yield, and we planned to distribute it to farmers in the next crop year,” Prasert Gosalvitra, director general of Thailand’s Rice Department said. “Production would rise significantly by 15 percent in 2015.”
The country needs to develop the new rice strain because it has limited land for rice farming, the official said.
“It is because of urbanization, industrialization as well as crop switching, which limited land for rice farming,” he said, referring to the country’s overall 9.1 million hectares of rice farmland.
The new hybrid rice strain, named PT06001H, could produce higher yield of 900 to 1,200 kilograms per rai (0.16 hectares), compared to the current average of 468 kg per rai.
“And with this rising rice production, I can guarantee right now that we will have 8 to 10 million tons for exports every year from now on,” Prasert said.
Thailand exported 8.7 million tons of the staple grain in 2010 and aimed to export 9 to 9.5 million tons this year, about a third of global rice trade.
Prasert said global rice demand was expected to remain strong in the coming years along with the rising world population, while supply in rice producing countries was likely to be reduced by harsh weather conditions.
Global rice prices have lagged the rise in other food grains this year, though loading demand and concerns over possible aggressive intervention by the next Thai government recently drove up rice prices in the nation.
But prices are unlikely to hit records set in 2008 in Asia, especially with countries such as Vietnam trying to grab market share. The G-20 group of large economies will monitor world supply of key grains to help prevent speculation from pushing up food prices, a draft statement of a ministerial meeting this week showed.
Food prices have eased in recent weeks in Asia, after a series of state-initiated measures such as offloading state grain reserves into the market and curbs on speculators.
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