Rice

According to the Thai government: “Growing rice has been the way of life of Thai farmers since ancient times. Their lifestyle is sifted, molded, and forged in the cradle of a rice civilization, to give rise to exquisite cultural traditions and customs between man and to an immense diversity in its genetic strands. In Thailand, there are about 3,500 varieties, ranging from wild rice, local varieties, and breeds newly created by man. Of the cultivation land utilized by farmers, rice takes up more land than other food crops, making up about 11.3 percent of the entire area of the country. The Central Plains and the Northeast possess larger areas of rice cultivation land, followed by the North and South respectively. Each region grows different types of rice, depending on its geographical conditions. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department]

For a long time Thailand was the world’s largest rice exporter. It slipped to No. 3 behind Vietnam and India in 2012. In the late 1980s, Thailand became a leading exporter of rice. It exported over 10 million tons in 2008, compared to 6.8 million tons in 2001and 4. 5 million tons in 1994. The worlds top exporters of rice in 1991 were 1) Thailand, 2) the U.S., 3) Pakistan, 4) Vietnam, 5) China, 6) Australia, 7) Italy, 8) India, 9) Uruguay, 10) Spain.

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Description

Thailand has a huge stockpile of rice. Heavy rains in 2005 produced record harvests. Droughts in 2004 reduced the harvest. The Thai government accumulated 4.3 million tons of milled rice after buying rice from farmers as part of a pledging scheme in 2006. In 2008, rice surged to a record $1,080 a ton.

Thailand exports about 100,000 tons of rice to Japan every year, which accounts for 15 to 20 percent of Japan’s imports from Thailand. Most of it is used to make rice crackers and liquor. A little is served at Thai restaurants. A big deal was made in Japan when aflatoxin—a highly carcinogenic toxin produced by fungi—was found in Thai rice exported to Japan.

The world food crisis in 2008 was a boon for Thailand as it made large profits from exporting rice. Later Thailand effectively banned rice exports which helped raise rice prices further.

Top rice-producing countries: (Production, $1000; Production, metric tons in 2008, FAO): 1) China, 36561286 , 193354175; 2) India, 30246312 , 148260000; 3) Indonesia, 12440012 , 60251072; 4) Bangladesh, 9868753 , 46905000; 5) Viet Nam, 7918880 , 38725100; 6) Thailand, 6059404 , 31650632; 7) Myanmar, 5612813 , 30500000; 8) Philippines, 3382928 , 16815548; 9) Brazil, 2522762 , 12061465; 10) Japan, 2337305 , 11028750; 11) Pakistan, 2162313 , 10428000; 12) United States of America, 1930780 , 9241173; 13) Egypt, 1476323 , 7253373; 14) Republic of Korea, 1464007 , 6919250; 15) Cambodia, 1463123 , 7175473; 16) Nigeria, 864799 , 4179000; 17) Nepal, 850799 , 4299264; 18) Sri Lanka, 802185 , 3875000; 19) Madagascar, 592679 , 3000000; 20) Peru, 584882 , 2775800; 1980s

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