Thailand is taking the leadership role in attempting to establish a consortium of Asian rice producers to enforce universal standards for rice going into export and to extract the most value possible from the export rice trade.
Discussion of the government taking the lead in this effort that could have a significant impact on the income of Thailand’s rice farmers was one focus of the World Rice Standard Summit held in Nakhonsawan Province, the leading rice-producing region of Thailand.
The other major point of discussion was about establishing a premium grade of 95 percent purity for Jasmine rice, which would basically leave only Thai farmers able to meet this premium grade and premium price.
Through an English interpreter, Yanyong Puangrach, permanent-secretary, Ministry of Commerce, said, “We should be able to lead the price of rice.” He contended that the price of rice should reflect the quality of the rice more than it has in the past.
Thailand wants to achieve more recognition for its rice and the fact that of all the rice exported around the world nearly a third of it, or 10 million metric ton, comes from Thailand.
The Thai government contends its Jasmine rice and numerous other varieties of rice are not commodity rice, and, therefore, needs segregated and identity preserved without adulteration, which has been known to occur through the marketing chain.
“Consumers need the facts so that they can determine what they are buying,” Puangrach said.
In Asia, as the middle class is evolving into a larger market share, the Thai officials are sure that they will pay more for quality rice to experience eating better than commodity rice.
“The world has been using the Thai standard for Jasmine rice,” Puangrach said. It is his contention that going forward, there should be a new standard with a super premium.
If the nations of Asia cooperate in setting standards in growing and milling of rice, they should also be able to establish floors to the price of rice because more than 50 percent of the rice grown for export comes from Asia.
“We need to improve the standards of rice for consumers and the rice farmers,” Puangrach kept repeating. The price impact to consumers was somewhat ignored in the discussion.