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Phumtham Wechayachai’s Bold Move: Transforming Decade-Old Rice into Profit and Purpose

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In a twist that seems right out of a modern-day folktale, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai made headlines this week with his bold stance on a dilemma that sounds like it’s straight from the annals of ancient agricultural quandaries. Picture this: mountains of rice, a decade old, left over from a policy that aimed to support farmers but ended up creating a quite literal mountain of a problem. On Monday, Phumtham took to Facebook—not exactly the Agora but the digital equivalent in our times—to proclaim his ambition to sell off this aging grain bounty.

Now, at first glance, auctioning off elderly rice might seem a tad unconventional, a bit like selling antiques, except these antiques are edible. Or are they? That’s where the plot thickens. This isn’t just any rice; it’s the last remnants of the controversial rice-pledging scheme from the era of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In a world where farm-to-table is a mantra, this is more like scheme-to-stomach. Phumtham, with the air of a seasoned strategist, asserted, “It is better than letting it rot to no value,” a statement that might not make it into fortune cookies anytime soon but carries a pragmatic wisdom.

What does one do with decade-old rice, you ask? Phumtham’s Facebook revelation hinted at a clientele that includes distillers eager to turn the grain into alcohol and rice exporters with eyes on markets in South Africa. Yes, you read that right. Alcohol. Because when life gives you old rice, make… spirits? It seems there’s a silver lining to this granular conundrum after all.

However, the plot, much like a well-aged wine, thickens. Concerns about aflatoxins—a word that sounds less like a toxin and more like a punk rock band from the ’80s—have surfaced. These nefarious compounds can cause cancer, but Phumtham, ever the optimist, believes in modern alchemy. With a wave of technological magic, he assures that the rice can be transmuted from potential poison to palatable platefuls.

Amid this saga, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang waded into the narrative with a denial of rumors as spicy as Thai cuisine itself. He reassured that soldiers wouldn’t be dining on this vintage variety. After all, the army marches on its stomach, and Sutin ensures it won’t be on decade-old grains.

Not to be outdone in this drama, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is calling in the scientists, turning to lab tests to prove the rice’s safety, much like a culinary CSI. Meanwhile, social media, that digital Colosseum, buzzes with debate, and Weerachai Phutdhawong, a name that perhaps in future tales will be whispered with reverence or disdain, discovers the aforementioned aflatoxins, casting a shadow over the banquet.

As this saga unfolds, one can’t help but be enraptured by the journey of this rice. From policy to problem, from auction to alcohol, it’s a story of transformation, hope, and a dash of daring. Phumtham’s tale, whether it ends in triumph or in toasting, reminds us all that sometimes, in the face of rot, the best we can do is ferment and find a new purpose. After all, isn’t that what we all are trying to do? Sit back, grab a snack (preferably not a decade old), and watch as this grainy drama unfolds.


  1. RiceLover98 May 13, 2024

    I find the idea of turning decade-old rice into alcohol both innovative and slightly unsettling. Is nothing wasted anymore, or are we just getting desperate?

    • EcoWarrior May 13, 2024

      Desperate times call for desperate measures! It’s way better to repurpose than to let it go to waste. Kudos to Phumtham for finding a silver lining in this situation.

      • RiceLover98 May 14, 2024

        I see your point, EcoWarrior. It’s just the thought of consuming something made from 10-year-old rice. It feels like we’re pushing the limits of repurposing.

    • SarahJ May 14, 2024

      Honestly, this feels a bit too risky for me. Aren’t there health concerns with using such old rice, even for alcohol?

      • ChemGeek May 14, 2024

        You’d be surprised, SarahJ. The distillation process should eliminate any harmful substances like aflatoxins. It’s all about the science.

  2. JohnD May 13, 2024

    Why are we only hearing about this rice now? Sounds like poor planning from the start. Letting rice sit for a decade is just incompetence.

    • PolicyNerd May 13, 2024

      It’s a remnant of a well-meaning policy gone wrong, JohnD. Sometimes, government programs have unforeseen consequences. But it’s a learning curve.

      • JohnD May 14, 2024

        A ‘learning curve’ costing millions. Classic government move. There had to be a better way to deal with this from the start.

  3. greenChef May 13, 2024

    Turning decade-old rice into alcohol sounds like an episode from a sci-fi show. I’m curious and horrified in equal measure.

    • greenChef May 14, 2024

      Just to clarify, it’s not that I’m against innovative recycling. I just wonder about the taste… and effects.

  4. AgriAnalyst May 14, 2024

    While the idea may sound good on paper, I have major concerns about the safety and environmental impact of this project. This shouldn’t just pass without rigorous testing.

    • OptimistPrime May 14, 2024

      Surely, the government wouldn’t proceed without ensuring safety. Besides, the article mentioned lab tests. Let’s give science a chance before jumping to conclusions.

      • AgriAnalyst May 14, 2024

        Lab tests or not, history tells us that government oversight isn’t infallible. I hope you’re right, though.

  5. Historian May 14, 2024

    This rice saga is a fascinating reflection of our times. Waste, innovation, and public skepticism—all in one. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

  6. AnnaB May 14, 2024

    I’m all for recycling and sustainability, but feeding this to people in any form feels wrong. Could there not be a better use? Perhaps as compost or animal feed?

    • TechieFarms May 14, 2024

      Animal feed is a plausible idea, but only if the aflatoxins can be managed. Compost, though, seems like a waste of potential. It’s a complex issue for sure.

  7. CuriousCat May 14, 2024

    Has anyone thought about the farmers who grew this rice a decade ago? They’re the real victims of the initial scheme, and now their crops are being turned into alcohol.

    • FarmersFirst May 14, 2024

      Exactly my thought, CuriousCat. It’s easy to get lost in the novelty and forget the people at the start of the chain. We need solutions that prioritize them.

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