News / Economy

Thai Rice to Flood Global Markets as Subsidy Ends

Kittisak Ratanawarahal, chairman of the Northern Farmers Network, stands in warehouse of rotten rice abandoned ten years ago in Phichit province under price-support scheme by then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Feb. 6, 2014.
Kittisak Ratanawarahal, chairman of the Northern Farmers Network, stands in warehouse of rotten rice abandoned ten years ago in Phichit province under price-support scheme by then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Feb. 6, 2014.
Reuters
Millions of tons of Thai rice are set to flood into already oversupplied international markets when the government's controversial subsidy scheme grinds to a halt later this month.

The country's caretaker government last week said it did not have the power to renew the program, which has paid farmers in one of the world's top exporters of rice nearly double market rates and is due to expire at month-end.

That will force farmers to offload the March harvest into a market currently dominated by India and Vietnam. With Bangkok already shifting grain from record government stockpiles, the sales threaten to worsen a supply glut that has dragged on international prices.

While many rice farmers are expected to remain loyal to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who swept to power in 2011 on the back of rural votes generated in part by the subsidies, a slump in prices that could be blamed on her leadership would erode her support base and be another blow for her embattled government.

The bulk of the around 5 million tons of milled grain that is expected to be produced from next month's crop, equivalent to more than 10 percent of all rice traded globally last year, is likely to be sold to exporters as farmers and millers have limited capacity to hold back stocks.

"It's like farmers are being set adrift. We will have to sell rice to millers at prices lower than what we got in the past," said Boonserm Thongsook, a farmer in the province of Suphan Buri, around 40 km north of Bangkok.

"I may not vote for Yingluck again as she ignores us. The scheme is about to end and she does nothing to support us."

The subsidy program has been mired in allegations of corruption and faced growing losses, becoming a target of a Bangkok-based protest movement bent on ousting Yingluck and the caretaker government she has led since December.

Unrest is spreading to her party's natural supporters in the countryside, where many farmers have gone unpaid for their rice for months as the program scrambles for funding.

Hundreds of unpaid Thai rice farmers this week swarmed around Yingluck's temporary office and threatened to storm the building.

Any possible reintroduction of the rice-buying scheme would be off the cards until the completion of disrupted elections, which the country's Election Commission said was unlikely until late April.

Most market participants expect some sort of program to re-emerge no matter who wins at the polls, though it is likely to be far less generous than the current scheme. Thailand has had different forms of rice support scheme for around three decades.

"From the world market's point of view, the end of the scheme could be bearish because it implies a potentially large boost to world export availability," said Darren Cooper, senior economist with trade body the International Grains Council in London.

Global glut

Traders and officials said Thai rice prices, which have already dropped 14 percent since January, won't fall much further as they are already cheaper than competing varieties.

"Exporters will not offer prices that are lower than their costs of production," said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Thai exporters said prices could fall to $350 ($1 = 32.4 baht) a ton for the benchmark 5-percent broken variety, the lowest in seven years, from $375 a ton currently offered on a free on board basis.

That compares with $410 a ton being quoted for similar varieties in top exporter India and $400 a ton in No.2 seller Vietnam.

Thailand paid farmers 15,000 baht ($463) per ton of paddy under the intervention scheme that started in October 2011, compared to the 8,000-9,000 baht per ton they can expect in the open market this year.

Most Thai farmers live in poor and remote areas that lack access to large storage silos, meaning they have little opportunity to hold back rice in hope that prices will climb in future.

As well as sales from the upcoming harvest, authorities will open a tender this week to sell 500,000 tons of rice from state warehouses, after a previous 400,000-ton offering attracted healthy interest.

Extra supply from Thailand comes as India is looking to shrink reserves swollen after bountiful monsoon rains and Vietnam starts to harvest the highest-yielding of its three annual crops.

The world's top rice buyers in Southeast Asia and Africa, who have stayed out of the market since January, are likely to make the most of their purchases from Thailand, hitting Indian and Vietnamese exports.

"Demand in the start of the first quarter has been subdued but we expect buyers to be back in the market in March or April," said a Singapore-based trader, who declined to be named.

"They will any day prefer Thai rice over other origins even if the prices are at par."

Thailand, which was the world's top exporter of rice until Yingluck's intervention scheme derailed shipments in 2011, is known for its high quality grains.

Vietnam has said it expects its rice exports in January-March to decline by a quarter with African buyers switching to cheaper Thai cargoes.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

SpaceX On Its Way to ISS

Cargo ship carries supplies, experiments supplies including first 3-D printer, for International Space Station More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.