The government in Thailand is hailing a recent agreement with China as a significant step towards reducing its extensive rice stockpile. However, critics of the programme, which offers growers a minimum price for their crops, say that the deal with Beijing will put only a dent in Thailand’s so-called rice mountain.
The agriculture sector accounted for more than 11% of GDP in 2009, the last year for which statistics were available. Thailand is a major exporter of a number of food products; it was the world’s top exporter of rice in 2009 and was set to reach a record sugar yield in 2010-11, with production predicted to climb as high as 9.47m tonnes between November 2010 and November 2011.
DWednesday in Bangkok, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in Asia the retail price of rice, the major staple, rose in Bangladesh by 33 percent from last year and in China and Indonesia by 23 percent. During the last food crisis, the situation was aggravated when some countries imposed export restrictions or engaged in panic buying.