The Thailand Rice Convention and World Rice Standard Summit were held less than two weeks in advance of the nation’s national elections. The convention was set up to earn international publicity about Thailand producing the best rice in the world and to earn domestic publicity about Thailand officials leading the country to maintain its leadership role in world rice export for the next 40 years.
Rice farmers were included in the audience of the standards summit where government officials said farmers will share in establishing Thailand as the country producing premium rice. A new standard of 95 percent purity for Jasmine rice would be dominated by Thailand’s rice growers, it was more or less guaranteed.
The Ministry of Commerce also called for a coalition or consortium of Asian rice growers to work together establishing higher base prices for rice in the world export market.
All of these rice industry promises and discussions with the largest agricultural production group in the nation goes along with the ruling Democrat Party promises for raising minimum wages. Thailand has been seen as one of the most progressive nations in Asia in terms of wage guarantees. Leading up to the prime minister and parliamentary election, the Democrat Party, according to The Wall Street Journal, has promised “to raise minimum wages by 25 percent over the next two years if it stays in power.” But the main opposition party, Puea Thai, is promising 40 percent wage increases, which is unlikely could be enacted no matter what party wins an election plurality.
Supporters of 2006 ousted and exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is the actual leader of the Puea Thai Party, according to all reports, even though the prime minister candidate is Yinglinck Shinawatra.
The current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Democrat Party candidates were behind in the most recent poll, and there are a lot of questions about how a ruling coalition will be established without political protest upheaval.
To show there was international interest in Thailand’s rice production and exporting, six non-Asian media were sponsored for participating in the rice convention and rice standards meetings and visit to a rice producing village with local government research center. Besides myself, the contingent included an Australia food writer and cookbook author, a U.S. food and liquor writer, a South African packaging and processing editor, a South African marketing and sales editor and an English videographer reporter.
It is definitely going to be interesting to see if the aggressive agenda outlined by the Thailand ruling government officials will be the agenda and accomplished after the upcoming elections.