August 13, 2014

13/08/2014: Thailand looking to produce ethanol from rotting rice stocks

by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat

Thailand's military government is studying a plan to use rotten rice from state stocks to produce ethanol, hoping to make use of grains that have gone bad and help reduce losses from a costly rice-buying scheme, a senior government official told Reuters.

The government is estimated to have lost as much as 400 billion baht (US$12.5 billion) in buying and storing 18 million tonnes of rice from farmers at higher-than-market rates in the scheme that started in October 2011 and ran through February this year.

After nearly completing a nationwide warehouse inspection, the government has found that about 20 percent of the stocks were missing or rotten, said Rangsan Sriworasart, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Finance and a member of the rice inspection committee.

Ethanol producers, however, were not sure the plan to use the rotten rice to make biofuel would be commercially viable, saying it could need government support.

"We just launched the idea to ethanol producers and we need to talk to them later to see what we could do to encourage them to produce ethanol from the rice," Rangsan said.

He said ethanol demand was expected to rise substantially over the next few years, and using rice could help diversify raw materials for the biofuels sector in the future.

Nearly 3 million tonnes of rice in the state warehouses are rotten, said a Ministry of Finance official who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to talk to media.

Read more HERE.

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