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May 2024

Phumtham proves 10-year-old rice edible, vows to auction it next week

Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai declared on Monday that he will start auctioning off the 15,000 tonnes of rice in storage from next week.

The rice, collected under the rice-pledging scheme 10 years ago, is being stored in two warehouses in the Northeast province of Surin.

Leading reporters, exporters and rice millers to the two warehouses, Phumtham insisted the stored rice was perfectly fine for human consumption. To prove this, he tucked into a plate of rice from the two warehouses served with stir-fried chicken with chillies and basil (kraphao kai) and an omelette.

The jasmine rice had been bought as part of the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck’s government was ousted in a military coup in 2014.

Phumtham proves 10-year-old rice edible, vows to auction it next week

“I have proved that the rice is of good quality, so it will be auctioned off to regain funds for the state,” said Phumtham, who also holds the post of deputy prime minister.

He said he expects the rice at the two warehouses to go under the hammer within a week. This is believed to be the last of the rice stored under the Yingluck government’s rice-pledging scheme.

Rejecting rumours that the rice is unsafe for human consumption, Phumtham said the grain has been kept in dry conditions and sprayed regularly with anti-weevil spray.

Phumtham proves 10-year-old rice edible, vows to auction it next week

The Kittichai warehouse sprayed the rice every two months, while Poolphol sprayed it every month.

Academics have warned that the rice may not be good or safe for human consumption, especially after it has been exposed to anti-weevil sprays for over a decade.

Meanwhile, the representatives of rice exporters, rice stock surveyors, rice mill associations and reporters, who were accompanying Phumtham on the inspection trip, also tasted the rice.

Supachai Woraapinyaporn, a representative of Thanasan Rice Co Ltd, said his company was a major rice exporter and his customers in Africa were interested in buying the old jasmine rice.

According to the Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO), the Kittichai warehouse has been storing rice since January 2014. It initially stored 26,094 tonnes of rice from 24 rice mills, but after three rounds of sale, 11,656 tonnes of rice is left over.

Poolphol, meanwhile, took in 9,557 tonnes of rice from six mills since March 2014. After four separate sales of the stock, the warehouse now has 3,356 tonnes.

Thichapha Aopattana, owner of the Kittichai warehouse, said the rice has been stored as per PWO regulations, with every effort being made to prevent rainwater from being leaked into the warehouse and insects being kept out. QR Code

Published Date: May 6, 2024

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