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Phumtham Wechayachai Tests 10-Year-Old Rice Scheme’s Success in Surin, Thailand

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Welcome to a tale that could only happen in the realm of global agriculture and political controversies. In the spotlight today is not a celebrity chef or a new trendy diet but an undeniably less glamorous, yet equally fascinating, protagonist: rice. Yes, you read that right. But not just any rice—this is 10-year-old rice, preserved under a scheme that’s as controversial as it is ambitious, nestled in the heart of Surin, Thailand, during the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

In a world where leftovers hardly make it past a week in the fridge, the concept of 10-year-old rice being not only edible but also of good quality might sound like a culinary urban legend. Yet, here we are, witnessing the incredible as Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai steps forward to dispel myths and munch on decade-old grains in front of the media. It’s not every day you see government officials turning into food critics, especially with such aged specimens.

The stage was set as Mr. Phumtham, accompanied by a merry band of representatives from both private and public sectors, including rice surveyors, Thai Rice Mill Association members, rice exporters, and, of course, journalists (because if a politician eats old rice and no one’s around to photograph it, did it really happen?), descended upon the serene town of Surin. Their mission? To lay to rest the swirling accusations that this storied stockpile had succumbed to rot.

The journey took them to two venerable warehouses: the Kittichai in Prasat district, an imposing guardian of 258,106 sacks of rice since January 3, 2014, and the Poolphol Trading Co in Muang district, holding 94,637 sacks since March 14, 2014. Despite the passage of time, these bastions of grain had successfully safeguarded their charge, now slimmed down to a still considerable 112,711 and 32,879 sacks, respectively.

A shadow of doubt had been cast over this rice repository by a local expert, skeptical of the rice’s edibility after such an extended sabbatical. This claim was met with Mr. Phumtham’s unwavering assurance—garnered from his own inspection rounds earlier in March—that the rice was indeed still fit for consumption. This latest visit wasn’t just a tasting session but a bold refutation of the cynics and naysayers.

With a calm demeanor, Mr. Phumtham revealed the simple truth behind the longevity of this rice: preservation. Echoing the wisdom that separates a fine wine from vinegar, he explained that the meticulous care and regular fumigation, coupled with the hermetic sealing of warehouses, were the secret ingredients to this rice’s enduring quality. After all, in the delicate dance of food preservation, it’s the steps taken that matter, not the passage of time.

As the moment of truth arrived and the grains were finally sampled, the air was thick with anticipation. Could this be the vintage wine moment for rice? Mr. Phumtham seemed to think so, announcing plans to put the rice up for auction in a bold move that could see the government pocketing anywhere between 200 to 400 million baht. In the grand scheme of things, this rice saga serves as a reminder of the incredible resilience of staple foods and the unexpected ways in which they can intertwine with politics, storage science, and culinary curiosity.

So next time you find yourself questioning the longevity of your pantry items, remember the tale of the 10-year-old rice from Surin. In a world where the new often overshadows the old, it’s a refreshing narrative that proves some things, like fine wine—or in this case, rice—only get better with age.


  1. RiceLoverJoe May 6, 2024

    I can’t believe they kept rice for 10 years and it’s still good! This is like finding buried treasure but for the food world.

    • SkepticalSara May 6, 2024

      Seriously? How can rice last that long without going bad? I’m having a hard time buying this story.

      • ScienceGuy89 May 6, 2024

        It’s all about proper storage conditions. Grains can last for years if kept dry and airtight. Ancient civilizations stored grains for decades!

    • FoodHistorian May 6, 2024

      This practice isn’t new. Historically, grains were a form of wealth because they could be stored. Surin’s approach bridges ancient wisdom and modern tech.

  2. GreenRevolution May 6, 2024

    While it’s fascinating from a scientific point of view, this raises questions about food safety regulations. How do we ensure such old rice is safe to eat?

    • TechieTom May 6, 2024

      Presumably, they’re conducting tests for safe consumption. It would be irresponsible otherwise. But yes, transparency about the process would be reassuring.

  3. EcoWarrior May 6, 2024

    Isn’t focusing on 10-year-old rice missing the point? We should be talking about reducing food waste, not storing it for a decade.

    • MinimalistMike May 7, 2024

      True, but think about the potential for reducing waste through better storage. There are places in the world where grain spoilage is a huge issue.

      • EcoWarrior May 7, 2024

        Fair point, Mike. Improved storage could indeed make a difference in food security. Still, it seems like a Band-Aid solution to a systemic problem.

  4. MarketMaven May 6, 2024

    Putting the rice up for auction is genius. It’s a fantastic marketing move if nothing else. Who wouldn’t want to own a piece of history?

    • SallySkeptic May 7, 2024

      But who’s buying? This feels more like a gimmick than a real solution to any problem. It’s cool, sure, but let’s not pretend it’s more than that.

      • CollectorCarl May 7, 2024

        I’d buy! There’s a market for everything, especially items with a story. It’s not just rice; it’s a conversation piece and a slice of history.

  5. PolicyPete May 7, 2024

    This highlights the need for innovative food preservation techniques in policy making. We should invest in storage technologies to prevent losses.

    • GreenRevolution May 7, 2024

      I agree, Pete. But there’s a balance to be struck. Storage tech is great, but it shouldn’t discourage us from improving food distribution systems to avoid surplus.

  6. BarbInSurin May 7, 2024

    As someone living in Surin, this whole saga has been quite a ride. Surprised to see our little rice story making international waves!

  7. CuriousChef May 7, 2024

    Does the rice taste any different after 10 years? I’m intrigued by the idea of ‘vintage’ rice flavors.

    • RiceLoverJoe May 7, 2024

      That’s what I was wondering! They say fine wine gets better with age. Does the same apply to rice? I’d love to cook with it if it adds a unique taste.

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