The price of Thai rice in the local and overseas markets is expected to increase soon as drought reduces the rice supply in many countries, including Thailand. Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said the impact of drought on cereal production had been more serious than expected.
Total rice output this year could be only 25 million tonnes of paddy, lower than the normal output of about 30 million tonnes. Drought has also affected other countries, including India and Vietnam, whose supplies of rice would also decline this year.
"Rice prices in the world market and domestically should increase soon amid lower supplies worldwide. As Thailand holds one of the world's major rice stocks, the Kingdom should be able to sell up to 10 million tonnes this year," Chatchai said.
To help farmers affected by the drought, the ministry is drafting a plan to reduce the cost of living by setting up a mobile unit to sell cheap essential goods directly to farmers in particular areas.
The Agriculture Ministry has also outlined a plan to assist rice farmers suffering lower incomes this year.
In addition, under a plan to lower the cost of living for consumers, the Commerce Ministry will allocate about 5,000 tonnes of white rice for retail at low prices.
The ministry's 2- and 4-kilogram rice packs will be sold to low-income people at prices 10 per cent lower than the average market rates.