Published on 26 September 2016
Thailand’s jasmine rice exports to Qatar decreased from 1770.3 tonnes (worth$1.72mn) to 1335.5 tonnes ($1.12mn) in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year due to climate change, the Thai embassy in Doha has said.
“While climate change directly affected rice productivity in Thailand, the global economic recession also contributed to a decline in demand,” Thai ambassador Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum told Gulf Times.
The El Niño phenomenon has severely affected agricultural lands in many Southeast Asian countries since last year, particularly Thailand, the second largest rice exporter in the world.
Chaiyindeepum also cited many emerging rice exporting competitors but stressed that Thai farmers and their government will continue to offer high-quality jasmine rice to the world at a reasonable price.
These include Qatar, which ranks 42nd as Thailand’s jasmine rice export destination.
Thailand is also ready to exchange expertise with Qatar in the field of agriculture to help in ensuring food security in the country, according to the envoy.
As one of the leaders in high quality agricultural production in the world, Chaiyindeepum said Thailand can provide technical assistance and capacity building to Qatar in areas such as rain making, hydroponics farming technology, and aquaculture.
He pointed out that geographical diversity in Thailand, together with “New Theory (of Agriculture)” initiated by the King of Thailand, led to the development of their technical know-how on sustainable farming.
Such knowledge and technology, he added, can contribute to Qatar’s food security.
Chaiyindeepum noted that Thailand also has experts in the field of molecular plant breeding, developing plants that have high tolerance to drought and extreme weather.
“We are pioneers in artificial rain production by cloud seeding technique (Royal Rainmaking Project) — patented by the European Patent Office to the King of Thailand,” he explained.
Thailand is also ready to help and co-operate with Qatar on “technical exchange and investment” in the medical field, the envoy said.
Known as a medical hub of Southeast Asia, he noted that they have many internationally certified hospitals, renowned doctors, and state-of-the-art medical technologies.
Besides jasmine rice exports, figures from the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand showed that total trade volume in the first half of 2016 had decreased by 31.08% compared to the same period last year.
“Qatar is Thailand’s 29th trading partner with two-way trade amounted to $1.4bn in the first half of 2016,” it said.
“The exports from Thailand to Qatar amounted to $178.74mn while imports from Qatar was $1.2bn.
“However, this corresponds with the global trend of Thailand’s trade with all countries.”
The envoy said that Thailand’s main imports from Qatar are petroleum products, especially LNG while Thailand’s major exports include food, automobiles, and electronics goods.