Rice exports likely to drop 50% this year, situation could even worsen in 2021


The Thai Rice Exporters Association estimates total rice exports for 2020 at 5 million tonnes, only half of last year’s figure of 10 million tonnes, honorary president Vichai Sriprasert said.

“Next year the situation could be worse as the water level in 35 major dams is still lower than the previous year’s, while the rainy season will end soon. Therefore, rice output in 2021 could be lower than this year.” he warned.
“Furthermore, China now has more than 100 million tonnes of rice in their stocks, so they can compete with us in foreign markets such as Africa by using a price cutting strategy, as our rice production costs are still higher than those of our competitors.”
Wichai said that due to drought, the cost of rice production is Bt8,000 per tonne, while other rice producing countries such as China, Vietnam, India and Myanmar are witnessing a cost of around Bt6,000 per tonne.
“This makes Thai rice more expensive that foreign rice by around $100 per tonne. Luckily in some countries such as India, the Covid-19 situation has resulted in a nationwide lockdown and crippled their logistics system, forcing them to import rice from us,” he said.
“It is estimated that when India’s Covid-19 situation improves, they will have over 30 million tonnes of rice on their hands and Thai rice would no longer have the chance of penetrating their market,” Wichai pointed out.
“Thai farmers and related authorities need to focus on cost reduction and developing water resources for rice paddy. Currently, our irrigation system is not comprehensive enough, causing farmers whose paddy is far away from reservoirs to spend extra on water pumps, thus further increasing their production costs,” said Wichai.
“We also need to conduct research on new breeds of rice to penetrate new markets, or risk losing the opportunity to Vietnam, which has introduced several new rice breeds in the last few years,” he added.