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Thailand to Sell 11.4 Million Tons of Stockpiled Rice

FILE - Soldiers check rice stocks at a warehouse in Ayutthaya province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, July 3, 2014. Thailand plans to sell the remaining 11.4 million tons of rice in government stockpiles within two months.

Thailand plans to sell the remaining 11.4 million tons of rice in government stockpiles within two months, the country's rice management board said on
Monday, starting next week.

The world's second-biggest rice exporter after India has been reducing stocks left over after the end of a rice-buying scheme under the previous, civilian government.

The military government which took control following a May 2014 coup has auctioned off 5.05 million tons of rice worth $1.53 billion through several tenders since taking power.

Some traders were skeptical about the government's ability to sell off remaining stocks in just two months.

The government had previously said it aimed to clear the stockpile by the end of 2017.

"Auctions will start next week, with one million tons of rice for each lot. We aim to auction it all off within two months," said commerce ministry permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara, who is also secretary of the rice management board.

Chutima said the remaining rice stocks were worth over 100 billion baht ($2.85 billion).

Supachai Vorraapinyaporn, president of Tanasan Rice Group, Thailand's third largest rice exporter, said the government's target of offloading the rice within two months was not possible.

"This is a million percent impossible, considering that previous auctions were monthly, and only around 400,000 tons," said Supachai.

"Perhaps they meant two years, not two months," he added. Thailand has about 100,000 tons of what the commerce ministry has called "good grade" rice in state warehouses. The remaining stocks include 7.5 million tons of
"substandard" rice for human consumption, 1.5 million tons of rice earmarked for industrial use, and 2.4 million tons of spoiled rice.