By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE COMMERCE Ministry will ask for a budget allocation of Bt600 million for setting up a rice institute for commercial activities in a bid to promote the development of rice into more value-added products.
Permanent secretary Chutima Boonyapraphasara said the ministry was planning to ask the Rice Policy and Management Committee to approve the setting up of the country’s first rice institute for commercial operations.
“Thai rice can be developed as a value-added ‘super food’ in the form of various products. The commercial rice institute would contribute to adding value to Thai rice so that farmers would receive more income,” she said.
If approved, it will take about five to six months to establish the institute.
Chutima said the institute could contribute to a doubling of income from rice products. This would result in extra government revenue from rice-product duties of about Bt700 million each year.
Normally, the government cannot collect value-added tax from rice trading, but if it has been processed, VAT can be added.
The ministry will discuss with the Office of the Public Sector Development Commis-sion the formation of the institute, as it will not be managed by the government but should be a non-government organisation so it will be more efficient and flexible.
Chutima said the institute would also employ highly qualified people for administration of research and development.
She added that if this institute could be set up, more than 60 per cent of Thais involved in rice farming should have more income and better living conditions, since the rice price would be increased.
According to the Commerce Ministry, rice is a high-nutrition food and has low sugar. It could serve health-conscious people and be developed into various kinds of food for babies, children, senior persons, and those watching their weight.
Rice could also be produced as cosmetics and other products.
Meanwhile, the ministry is considering a plan to continue releasing the remaining 11.6 million tonnes of rice in the government stockpiles. Chutima said the ministry would consider releasing rice every month through various channels such as open bidding and government-to-government contracts.