Thailand seeks new rice varieties to reclaim position as rice export champ

The Thai government is now working with private firms to select and promote new varieties of Thai rice for export, as the Thai rice export figure has been in decline since last year.

The Rice Department and Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) are seeking new varieties of Thai rice that could gain popularity with international customers and allow Thailand to reclaim its position as the rice export champion.

A contest will be held by the two organizations to select three rice varieties with properties superior to conventional varieties already on the market, with one variety in the fragrant rice category, one in the soft white rice category, and one in the hard white rice category.

Varieties eligible for the competition must be developed and refined in Thailand. Winners in each category will receive a 500,000 baht cash prize, plus an honorary plaque and certification from the Minister of Commerce.

After the contest, the TREA will file for plant variety protection of the winning rice varieties at the earliest opportunity, before promoting the cultivation of these rice.

Once prominent in rice exports to the world, Thailand has been seeing a decline in the quantity of rice exported as a result of greater competition. The country logged a 24% drop in the quantity of rice exports last year, compared to 2019.

The TREA President Pol Lt Charoen Laothamatas revealed today that Thailand exported only 1.5 million tons of rice in the first four months of this year, considerably lower than the two million tons target.

With rice exports of six million tons set as a target this year, the TREA president acknowledged the industry is now in recession, especially in sales of white rice, parboiled rice, and Hom Mali rice, which have been falling continuously.

Both the TREA and the Rice Department are anticipating their new rice variety contest will allow Thailand to increase its competitiveness in international markets.