Thailand might get back on top of the list of the world’s biggest rice exporters, while the country experiences one of the worst droughts in recent years and farmers are confronted with low prices and a dwindling production. But the situation is common in other South-East Asian countries. India currently holds the number one rank among the countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of rice during 2015, with US$6.4 billion (31.8% of total) rice exports, while Thailand is right behind with $4.5 billion (22.7%) worth of rice exports.
“According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Thailand’s rice inventory is set to drop by almost 50% to 5.2 million metric tonnes in 2016 on the back of a projected decline in domestic output to a five-year low of 15.8 million metric tonnes,” experts with the Deutsche Bank concluded in a report.
In contrast to what it might seem, this is NOT bad news for the Thai Government. The rice inventory drop means those stockpiles will find their way out of the storage facilities and on the world market. Most of the world leading countries when it comes to rice production are being affected by one of the worst droughts of the past years, and while Thailand hasn’t been spared, the country still has one of the largest stockpiles of rice in the world, measured at about 11.3 million metric tonnes in 2015.
“It is highly plausible, in our view, that Thailand would take this El Niño episode as an opportunity to clear its huge stockpile and regain market share as shipments of rival exporters will likely be curbed by reduced domestic output,” Deutsche Bank’s report also stated, quoted by Business Insider.
These news aren’t enough for Bangkok officials. In February, Thai authorities pledged a financial effort worth around $285 million to help drought affected farmers across the country, who were also suffering from low prices caused by the slowing of China’s economy, the world’s top rice importer.