6 June 2024

The Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO) has been instructed by Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai to prepare a public auction for the 150,000 sacks of decade-old rice, stored in Surin province, once it is declared safe for humans to eat by the Department of Medical Sciences, expected on Monday.

The minister said today that the rice has already been tested by the laboratories of leading private companies and cleared of carcinogenic substances and chemical residues from the multiple fumigations while in storage, adding that the ministry is waiting for the Medical Sciences Department’s results as to the quality of the rice and its nutritional value.

Regarding the auction, Phumtham said the PWO will ensure, in the purchase requirements, that the successful bidder for the rice does not abandon the contract or delay taking delivery of it.

He said that, if the successful bidder fails to honour the purchase contract within the set timeframe, the second highest bidder will be awarded the contract, without calling a fresh auction.

The commerce minister said that potential bidders are believed to be waiting for the Medical Sciences Department’s test results and that they will conduct own tests, “because no one will risk spending money and risking the safety of their consumers without being assured that the rice is safe for consumption.”

He repeated his view that the old rice is safe and claimed that he has suffered no ill effects after eating it last week, adding “It is much better than auctioning it off as rotten rice, which would fetch only 5 baht per kilogram,” referring to previous auctions under the rice pledging scheme of the government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.