New market opportunity for white rice in health trend

Retail package of RD43 showing Glycemic index lower than normal white rice. Glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. The higher number, the quicker the food affects blood sugar level.

White rice is rated as high Glycemic Index (GI) food, same category as soft drink, potatoes and white bread. It was a joy when Thai government under Rice Department launched RD 43, a new rice variety that has been proved by research to have be classed as low to medium GI (56-69). Food in the same category as medium GI includes pulses, whole grain, some fruits and vegetables. RD 43 has GI 57.5 comparing with normal white rice at 87. Although not all foods with low GI are healthier than others, knowing GI rate in food helps diabetes to control their blood glucose. The higher GI rate, the faster increase in blood glucose of consumption.

There are few medium GI variety, but RD 43 was chosen because it is a non-photosensitive (can grow more than one crop a year) and has soft texture and mild fragrance. The variety has registered in September 2009, but it becomes hits after a research study came out and promoted in the media by the Prime minister in May.

A case of Public Private Partnership, a cooperation between public and private sectors, showing the two sectors promoting RD 43 under the Mega Field Project in Thailand’s Suphanburi province in wet season 2017/18, all products have been fetched with higher price. It reported that company was buying at USD 10 per ton higher than the market price.

The Thai-German Climate Programme (TGCP) Agriculture prepares Thai rice farmers under Mega Field against the impacts of climate change such as floods and droughts, which have direct effects on their income as well as on the global rice supply. In a special occasion of the Rice and Farmer Day organized at the Rice Department of Thailand from 4-9 June 2018, TGCP Agriculture collaborated with Thailand’s Rice Department to promote public awareness on rice with climate change though exhibition stands. The exhibition includes explanation on key technologies that will be promoted in the Mega Field project.

By Juejan Tangtermthong, Thai German Climate Programme (Agriculture Component)