The Thai government will open a tender to sell 300,339 tonnes of rice from state warehouses on October 14, its fourth attempt since July to reduce huge stockpiles built up under an intervention scheme that has made its grain uncompetitive on worldmarkets.
The exact size of the stockpiles is a matter of controversy but recent comments from the minister overseeing the scheme put them at about 15 million tonnes, more than double the 6.9 million tonnes that Thailand managed to export last year.
"The ministry offers to sell glutinous rice and several grades of broken white rice," the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, adding the tender was open to both local and foreign buyers.
The government sold just 240,000 tonnes of rice in three tenders in July and August out of the 660,000 tonnes offered. It bought the rice from farmers at prices way above the market and has been reluctant to sell near recent market levels, which would bring it big losses.
Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan said last month that the stockpiles totalled just 10 million tonnes, well below the 17 million reported by the government in June.
This week he said the total would fall to 10 million over coming months after delivery of 5 million tonnes under deals signed with foreign governments.
Thailand said in September 2012 it had sold 7.3 million tonnes to foreign governments but it provided few details and exporters have until now seen little evidence of shipments.
Traders and industry officials noted that fresh grain would be going into the stockpiles soon because the government has renewed its buying scheme for the crop year that started on Tuesday, guaranteeing farmers a price of 15,000 baht ($480) per tonne for paddy.
Thailand's 5 percent broken rice is currently offered for export at around $444 a tonne.
($1 = 31.2800 Thai baht)
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