Futures rice sales target 1m tonnes

The Commerce Ministry aims to sell 1 million tonnes of rice from state stockpiles through the futures market by June.

So far, it has sold 510,000 tonnes in eight auctions through the Agricultural Futures Exchange of Thailand (AFET), said caretaker Deputy Minister Yanyong Phuangrach on Saturday.

If achieved, the sales will fetch 10 billion baht, he said.

The ninth auction, to be held on April 9, will put up 196,740 million tonnes for sale, both hom mali and white rice.

World rice prices average $410 a tonne now and demand is steady. The Philippines has recently called a bid for the delivery of 800,000 tonnes and China agreed to buy 100,000 tonnes more Thai rice through China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (Cofco).

Commenting on the probe into the rice pledging scheme, Mr Yanyong said he would like to beg the National Anti-corruption Commission to allow the caretaker prime minister and all accused people more time to gather evidence in their defence for justice to all parties.

As a deputy commerce minister, Mr Yanyong insisted the scheme was implemented accurately with the goal of upgrading farmers' quality of life.

He also said the government did not ignore suggestions as reflected in the changes of criteria from unlimited purchases to a cap at not more than 500,000 baht a household and then 350,000 baht.

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