Rice export surge: Thailand fast-tracks new varieties to boost global market share

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Thailand is making significant strides in boosting its export competitiveness by fast-tracking the development of new rice varieties to meet global market demand, with plans to introduce 30 new varieties in the coming year.

Following the “new rice variety contest for Commerce” event, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit discussed Thailand’s efforts to combat the lack of diversity in its product offerings within the global rice market. This led to the country’s increased focus on producing new rice varieties to compete with other market players.

Earlier, the ministry had set a goal to create at least 12 new commercial rice varieties by 2024 under a five-year development plan, which commenced in 2020. This initiative is aimed at enhancing the export competitiveness of Thai rice. The 12 new varieties include four hard-texture grains, four soft textures, two Thai fragrant rice types, and two high-nutrition varieties that are highly sought after by consumers worldwide.

Remarkably, collaborative efforts between the government and private sector have already led to the successful development and certification of 12 new rice varieties by 2023, according to Jurin.

“With the five-year plan already in motion, we have reached a total of 21 new rice varieties today, including the 12 varieties approved by the Department of Rice. This surpasses the set target in terms of the number of rice varieties and is ahead of the 2024 goal.”

Jurin revealed that Thailand exported 7.7 million tonnes of rice last year and anticipates this year’s export volume will exceed 8 million tonnes, thanks to the increasing diversity of rice varieties. This expanded range is expected to improve the country’s export performance considerably, reported Bangkok Post.

Jurin added…

“This year, Thailand will reclaim its position as the second-largest rice exporter, and it is hopeful that the new government will continue to prioritise rice strategies.”

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, expects Thai rice exports to rise in both quantity and value during the second half of the year. This is due to growing global market demand and higher competitiveness of Thai rice compared to Vietnam’s, mainly because of lower prices.

Despite the El Niño weather phenomenon, Ophaswongse is confident that Thailand’s rice exports will continue to grow, as the country has sufficient production. During the first half of the year, Thailand already exported 4 million tonnes of rice, a 20% increase compared to the same period the previous year. With expectations of lower rice exports from Vietnam in the latter half of the year, Thailand is eyeing the opportunity to bolster its own rice exports, added Ophaswongse.

Regarding the El Niño influence from July to August, he noted that it is currently challenging to precisely predict rainfall levels. However, initial assessments suggest that this year’s rice production will be on par with that of 2022, with an estimated 20 million tonnes of milled rice.

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Alex Morgan

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