Thai food production robust despite El Nino

The El Nino weather phenomenon could have adverse effects on Thai farmers, food firms and consumers, but Thai food production has so far remained robust easing concerns in local and global commodities markets.

Thailand is the only net food-exporting country in Asia. As such, the Kingdom has an important role to play in regional and even global food security. Thailand’s food exports rank 15th in the world with a global market share of 2.25 percent, according to the Federation of Thai Industries.

Disruptions to Thai food production could have negative ripple effects worldwide. That was evident in 2011 when massive flooding reduced the volume of Thailand’s rice exports, sending global prices for the staple grain soaring.

Globally, food prices fell slightly in May after rising in April, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), but were still about 20 percent lower than the same time last year. At that time, conflicts in Europe sent food prices soaring because affected areas are some of the world’s biggest wheat producers.

Chakra Yodmani, Deputy Director-General of Thailand’s Internal Trade Department, said that the current El Nino had not yet affected local food prices. Vegetable prices, and prices for fertilizer, have actually been falling, he said.

Nonetheless, the effects of El Nino are expected to last for a few more months, and if droughts persist, they could start forcing food prices up.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said that it has forecast that the Kingdom’s food exports will rise by 2.1 percent this year to a record of $44.3 billion, helped by a recovery in global demand and China’s reopening.