Thai rice can make a nice souvenir: Minister

Thai-Jasmine-RiceA top Thai official has suggested giving tourists top-quality jasmine rice as a souvenir amid a mounting stockpile of the staple because of a controversial government price pledging scheme to farmers.

New Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach has said he plans to seek help from the Tourism Authority of Thailand to implement the plan.

The ministry would create attractive packaging for small 1kg to 2kg packs that could be distributed at the airport or popular destinations nationwide.

“Many countries have their own unique souvenirs, such as South Korea’s ginseng, the Netherlands’ tulips, and Japanese green tea.

Thailand should also be able to promote Thai jasmine rice to the world market.”

Mr Yanyong said.

The ministry would propose that the Cabinet and private firms use Thai rice as a souvenir for special occasions.

The government on Tuesday reversed a decision to cut the price it gives farmers for rice, a fortnight after stoking anger from its rural heartland by announcing a 20 per cent reduction in the fee.

“The Cabinet has endorsed the proposal… to adjust price for rice pledging scheme to 15,000 baht (S$614) per tonne.”

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters.

The sum would be paid until Sept 15, when the harvest is expected to be complete.

Two weeks ago, the government had slashed the rate by 3,000 baht, a move supported by exporters but criticised by farmers.

One source has been quoted as saying the government has decided to reduce the figuree by 2,000 baht for the next harvest.

Thailand has paid its farmers around 50 per cent more than the market value for rice since 2011 in an effort to boost incomes in the poor countryside, where Thais traditionally support the ruling Puea Thai party.

Source: The Nation/Asia News Network, Agence France Presse

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