"India will take three years to build up their inventories as usual. It is an opportunity for Thai rice to replace Indian rice," Chokiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said yesterday.
Recently, the Indian government said it would open bidding for 30,000 tonnes of 25 per cent white rice, the first lot, next week.
The planned auction in India has shored up the global rice price, Chokiat said.
India used to export an average of 5 million tonnes of rice a year, he said.
India will announce bidding for more lots in the near future to compensate for the loss of 10 million tonnes due to drought this year, he said. Usually, India keeps 30 million tonnes of rice in storage to ensure food security, he said.
Thailand cannot capitalise on the rising world prices because Vietnam and Burma quote lower export prices, he said.
Rice export prices will not likely reach the peak of more than US$1,000 (Bt33,400) per tonne quoted in 2007 during the food crisis, he said. Rice for export at present should not exceed $650 per tonne because prices of other crops have not increased much.
Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said more than 18 mills in 10 provinces have joined with the ministry to purchase rice from farmers under the government's income guarantee initiative.
Current reference prices are Bt8,189 per tonne for 10-per-cent paddy rice and Bt7,789 for 25-per-cent paddy rice. New prices will be released every 15 days. The local rice price is also on the way up, she said. For example, 5-per-cent paddy rice with 15-per-cent moisture is quoted at Bt8,500-Bt9,000 per tonne.
The natural disasters hitting many rice exporting countries have directly damaged their production while world consumption is increasing.
Japan and the Philippines have staged rice auctions and China plans to import more rice.