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Thailand’s Ancient Rice Saga: Dr. Somporn Warns Against Auctioning Decade-Old Grains Amid Corruption Shadows

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In a tale that could rival the fables of old, nestled in the heart of Thailand’s verdant landscapes, Assoc Prof Dr Somporn Isvilanonda, a sage of agricultural lore and a senior fellow at the Knowledge Network Institute of Thailand, has cast a wary eye over a curious government initiative. This cautionary note unraveled in a narrative filled with commerce, rice, and the specter of corruption – ingredients ripe for an epic saga.

Our story unfolds with Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai embarking on a journey to Surin province on a day marked by fate, March 14. His destination? Two ancient vaults of grain, the Poonpol Trading Co Ltd’s 4th warehouse in the Muang district and the legendary 2nd Kittichai warehouse in the Prasat district. These storied chambers held within them treasures of a bygone era – sacks of rice, 32,879 in one and a staggering 112,711 in the other, each sack a guardian of 100 kilograms of grain, sealed away for a decade.

Phumtham, with a vision to liberate these grains from their prolonged seclusion and thereby relieving the kingdom of the hefty tributes paid for their lodging, affirmed his noble plan. These kernels had been witnesses and evidence in tales of intrigue and malfeasance during the reign of the Yingluck Shinawatra government, accused of both irregularities and corruption. With the legal scrolls now settled, the rice remained, an enduring relic of those tumultuous times.

Amid whispers of rot and decay, Phumtham dispatched to these granaries to unveil the truth. His findings? Amid the musty air of the ancient storehouses, many a sack yielded rice still boasting of its noble lineage – edible, despite its years. The minister recounted the warding spells of humidity control and anti-moth incantations that shielded these grains, maintaining their essence albeit their gleaming white veneer had faded into the annals of time. Yet, the rice, now a golden relic, still sang the fragrant aria of jasmine.

Phumethan performed an ancient rite – he cooked the rice. The taste, he proclaimed, was a testament to its enduring legacy, fit to grace the tables once more as fried rice or the venerable “khao mun gai,” a dish for the gods where steamed rice meets boiled chicken in a heavenly embrace.

With visions of recouping golden baht between 300 million to 500 million, thus easing the lingering burdens of yesteryears’ schemes, Phumtham announced a grand auction of these 145,590 sacks under the stewardship of the Public Warehouse Organisation.

Yet, not all shared in this vision of reclaimed bounty. Assoc Prof Dr Somporn, the sage, cast doubt upon this quest. He spoke of the natural limits of jasmine rice’s tenure in the mortal realm – three to four years under the most vigilant of care, perhaps stretched to five with the strongest of magics. He whispered of unseen foes, of fungi and their dark aflatoxins birthed from negligent spells, warning that these relics of the past might not be the boon they seem.

He urged that this rice, enshrined for a decade, be scrutinized for these malevolent forces. The rice’s past, steeped in a cauldron of anti-moth concoctions applied with the changing of the seasons over ten long years, required thorough examination. He cautioned against the cursory glances given by Phumtham’s expedition, advocating instead for a meticulous appraisal of the entire horde, not just the sacks that caught the morning light.

And so, amid the rolling hills of Thailand, our tale pauses, hovering between the promise of fiscal salvation and the shadow of potential peril. Will the ancient grains prove to be a treasure reclaimed, or a reminder of the folly of man’s attempt to outwit the sands of time? Only the coming chapters of this saga will tell.


  1. GreenThumb March 20, 2024

    Selling ancient rice? Sounds like a way to make a quick buck without considering public health. There’s something eerie about eating something that was stored away when the world was almost a different place.

    • JasmineLover March 20, 2024

      I think you’re missing the point. This isn’t just about selling rice; it’s a clever maneuver to recoup some losses from past mistakes. If the rice is still edible, why waste it?

      • GreenThumb March 20, 2024

        It’s not about recouping losses if it ends up harming people. Have you thought about the toxins that might have built up over a decade? Dr. Somporn’s warning should be heeded.

      • RiceRanger March 20, 2024

        Isn’t it a bit romantic to eat rice that has such a historic saga? Think about the stories it could tell. Agreed with JasmineLover here, let’s not waste what is still good.

    • HealthFirst March 20, 2024

      Eating decade-old grains could pose health risks. Aflatoxins, anyone? Dr. Somporn is right to call for thorough testing. This isn’t just about economics but public safety too.

  2. Econ101 March 20, 2024

    The potential to recoup 300-500 million baht is fascinating. Economically speaking, this could be quite beneficial if done correctly. The key will be ensuring the rice is truly safe to eat.

    • SkepticOne March 20, 2024

      But at what cost? If even a small percentage of this rice is contaminated, the health fallout could far outweigh the financial gains. Short-term vision might lead to long-term consequences.

  3. RuralDreamer March 20, 2024

    This story feels like something out of a legend. Rice sealed away during one government, to be possibly served during another. There’s a poetic justice here, don’t you think?

    • CitySlicker March 20, 2024

      Poetic maybe, but let’s not ignore the underlying issues. This rice saga points to deeper problems within our system of governance and accountability. It’s more than just rice; it’s about governance and how we deal with the fallout of past decisions.

  4. Foodie101 March 20, 2024

    I wonder how the taste of this ancient rice compares to freshly harvested jasmine rice. The article mentions it still holds the fragrance, which is surprising and intriguing.

  5. OldSchool March 20, 2024

    In my time, the idea of keeping rice for a decade would be unheard of. We grew, harvested, and ate what we needed. Modern problems like this seem absurd from a traditional standpoint.

    • ModernAge March 20, 2024

      Times change, OldSchool. What was once ‘unheard of’ becomes necessary due to the complexities of global economics and politics. It’s not about tradition but adaptation.

    • Historian March 20, 2024

      It’s fascinating to think about how food storage techniques have evolved. From granaries in ancient civilizations to modern warehouses, preserving food is a tale as old as time.

  6. MysteryChef March 20, 2024

    Imagine the recipes that could come from using this rice. A dish that includes a piece of history in every bite. There’s a hidden value beyond the economic aspect if marketed right.

    • CritiquePalate March 20, 2024

      Historical value aside, the real question remains about its culinary merits. Could this truly compare with the fresh grains we’re accustomed to? Color me skeptical until proven otherwise.

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