Thailand approves $4.4b budget in rice intervention scheme

CHACHOENGSAO, Thailand (REUTERS) - Thailand's cabinet has approved a 105 billion baht (S$4.4 billion) budget to buy 7 million tonnes of paddy rice, as part of its rice intervention scheme for the 2012/13 production year, a government official said on Sunday.

The buying period for off-season rice was set from Feb 1 to Sept 15, 2013, government spoksman Tossaporn Serirak Tossaporn said, adding rice less than 110 days old would not be accepted in the scheme.

"The budget will be part of the 410 billion baht scheme the government approved on September 13, 2011," he told reporters.

Thailand intervenes in the rice market each year to support millions of farmers, but the scheme launched in October 2011 guaranteed prices so generous that they have caused huge stockpiles, hit exports and strained finances.

Thailand is set to sell half a million tonnes of rice on world markets at a loss, as it scrambles to offload a record stockpile deteriorating in quality in warehouses filled with grain bought under a government scheme.

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