Thailand lost its three-decade-old position as the world’s top rice exporter to India and Vietnam in 2012, said President of the Thai Rice Exporters’ Association Chookiat Ophaswongse on January 4.

Ophaswongse blamed the loss on his Government’s controversial scheme to buy rice from farmers at above-market prices.

Thailand sold rice 100–200 USD per tonne higher than its global competitors, which also resulted in lower demand.

He warned that rice exporters will shift trade to other commodities in the time to come. Rice has become a political issue in Thailand , he added.

However, the Government still believes it will find clients that will buy at the higher price, which will improve the living standards of domestic farmers.

The country exported 6.9 million tonnes of rice last year - a 35 percent drop from the 10.6 million tonnes it shipped in 2011. In 2012, India and Vietnam exported 9.5 million and 7.8 million tonnes, respectively.-VNA