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Phumtham Wechayachai’s Taste of History: Surin’s Decade-Old Rice Finds a New Purpose

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In a display that felt more like a food critic’s adventurous day out than a ministerial inspection, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, found himself amidst stacks of rice bags in Surin province, about to undertake a culinary journey back in time. Picture the scene: a sunny Monday in Surin, and Mr. Phumtham, with the ease of a seasoned gourmand, tucks into a plate of rice so aged, it might just need its own history book. This wasn’t your standard luncheon; it was a statement.

The backdrop of this intriguing taste test? A decade-old rice stockpile, a relic from the ambitious yet controversial rice-pledging scheme led by convicted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The scheme, as grand in scale as it was in ambition, aimed to boost farmers’ incomes but ended up sailing the country into financial rough waters, leaving behind a hoard of rice, much of which found its way to warehouses in Surin. Enter Mr. Phumtham, not on a mission to court controversy or stir political pots, but with a simple, albeit unique, agenda: to sell this vintage grain.

Addressing the press with the air of someone who has just discovered a rare vintage wine rather than a staple food, Mr. Phumtham was quick to clarify, “This isn’t about politics; it’s about practicality. My focus is on clearing this stock, not reopening old political wounds,” essentially channeling a “let’s eat, not debate” philosophy.

The tasting was more than just a culinary oddity; it was a demonstration. With the flair of a magician revealing his secrets, Mr. Phumtham detailed the process: a rigorous fifteen-time washing ritual to rid the rice of a decade’s worth of dust, followed by cooking. The result? A dish that, surprisingly, looked just as inviting as any freshly harvested rice might, arguably making a case for aged rice as a niche gourmet product. As for any adverse aftereffects? Mr. Phumtham reported none, his digestive fortitude seemingly as robust as his resolve to offload this agricultural inheritance.

But what does one do with such an abundance of time-honored rice? According to the Commerce Minister, the answer lies across the seas in Africa’s old-rice markets, envisioning an auction that would see this culinary artifact making its overseas debut.

The narrative of the rice, from its inception in Yingluck’s rice-pledging gambit—which, despite its financial catastrophe, was a monumental attempt at agricultural reform—to its potential rebirth on African dining tables, is nothing short of extraordinary. This tale of rice, encapsulating hope, controversy, and an ultimate quest for redemption, mirrors a saga, with Mr. Phumtham cast in the role of its latest protagonist.

As for Yingluck, her brother Thaksin’s hopeful musings on her return to Thailand remind us that this story, much like the rice itself, has layers yet to be unveiled. Thaksin’s own narrative adds another twist, with his return and subsequent parole weaving into the broader tapestry of Thailand’s rich political and socio-economic fabric.

In this unexpected episode of culinary diplomacy, Mr. Phumtham’s unconventional approach might just serve up more than just ancient grains. It might dish out a fresh perspective on sustainability, resilience, and the intricate dance between politics and the plate. As for the rice itself, it stands as a testament to the idea that, sometimes, it’s not just the flavor but the story behind the dish that truly satisfies the palate.


  1. RiceLover101 May 7, 2024

    This idea of selling decade-old rice is preposterous! How can we ensure it’s safe to eat after all this time? Seems like a desperate attempt to sweep a failed policy under the rug.

    • HealthNut May 7, 2024

      Actually, if it’s stored properly, rice can last a really long time. It’s like wine, aging could potentially offer a unique taste. We should wait for more scientific tests before jumping to conclusions.

      • ScienceBuff May 7, 2024

        Spot on! The key factor here is the storage condition. If the rice was kept dry and sealed, it could very well be a safe, gourmet experience. Anyone making assumptions otherwise may not understand food preservation.

    • RiceLover101 May 7, 2024

      Maybe, but won’t shipping it to Africa raise concerns? Feels like we’re dumping our problems onto someone else. It’s not just about safety but ethics too.

  2. Jane Doe May 7, 2024

    I find the whole concept fascinating! Turning a problem into an opportunity is smart. And if this rice is as good as Phumtham claims, why not sell it? We waste too much food already.

    • EconGuy May 7, 2024

      Exactly! This could set a precedent for how we deal with surplus or aged food in the future. Instead of looking at it as ‘waste’, we see potential. It’s innovative and could open up new markets.

  3. ConspiracyTheorist May 7, 2024

    Doesn’t anyone else see this as a big political stunt? They’re trying to turn a failed scheme into a success story. Watch out, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

    • Realist123 May 7, 2024

      Not everything is a conspiracy. Sometimes, a good idea is just that—a good idea. We’re too quick to judge actions through a political lens. Let’s give credit where it’s due.

    • ConspiracyTheorist May 7, 2024

      Wait until we see the long-term effects of this so-called ‘good idea’. Aged rice as gourmet is just spin. Mark my words, there will be repercussions.

  4. AgriAdvocate May 7, 2024

    We’re missing the big picture. This scheme failed farmers more than it helped. Selling old rice won’t change that. We need systemic change, not gimmicks.

  5. Techie May 7, 2024

    Why not leverage technology to transform this old rice into something innovative? Like, creating rice-based products that could really benefit society. Selling it off feels like a missed opportunity.

  6. HistoryBuff May 7, 2024

    There’s a rich history in aged foods around the world. This could be a unique entry into that tradition if handled with care and creativity. It’s about cultural appreciation, not just clearing stock.

  7. Skeptic May 7, 2024

    Selling it to Africa seems like a band-aid solution. What happens when the stockpile runs out? We’ll be back to square one with no real progress made.

  8. OutoftheBox May 7, 2024

    Why not use this rice in a way that directly benefits those who suffered from the scheme’s failure? Like a food relief program for the impacted farmers.

  9. OldSchoolChef May 7, 2024

    As a chef, the idea of cooking with aged rice intrigues me. It could add a whole new depth to traditional dishes. I’d love to experiment with it.

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