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Promoting Sustainable Rice Production in Thailand‘s Central Valley

  • Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter, annually shipping 5-6 million tons of milled rice worth USD 2.1 billion, which constitutes 3.6% of the country’s total export earnings (IRRI 1996). 52% of Thailand’s population is agricultural and the majority of Thai farmers grow rice on more than half of the total cultivated land in the country.
  • Thailand produces lower-grade varieties of rice, as well as high-quality, long-grain white rice, which commands a premium on the world market. The recent surge in Vietnam’s lower cost production of the lower-grade varieties is likely to cut significantly into Thailand’s future export potential of these varieties.  However, expanding populations and rising incomes, globally, signal a long-term growth in demand for higher quality, long-grain rice. Thailand is well positioned to supply this demand if it can increase long-grain production while maintaining its premium quality.  The challenges are largely environmental:  unsustainable production patterns are responsible for declining arable land and water supplies, as well as a deteriorating soil, water and biotic resource base on which all agriculture depends.
  • Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives' Rice Department, the International Rice Research Institute , the Asian Institute of Technology , IIED and AidEnvironment to devise supply chain strategies for the sustainable production of quality rice in Thailand's Central Valley, where 30% of all Thai rice is produced.
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