By The Nation
Published on September 30, 2008
http://nationmultimedia.com Thailand. The government should be clear on its ethanol policy as a means to promote the use of Thai tapioca. Thailand is one of the biggest producers of tapioca, and the product has been a major source of export income since the 1980s.
The tapioca trade has a solid structure and is supported by a number of associations including the Thai Tapioca Development Institute and the Thai Tapioca Trade Association. Thai tapioca producers have managed to improve the quality of the product to meet the needs of consumers. However, the need for tapioca on the world market has decreased over the past few years because there are other crops that can be used in the production of animal feed. Therefore, the government needs to find a new market for farmers who depend on cassava root plantations.
Ethanol production can provide a big market for Thai tapioca. However, the government has so far failed to spell out its policy on ethanol. Consequently, ethanol producers are now facing the problem of surplus domestic supply and they are forced to export, even though their produce is meant to support ethanol policies at home. A clear policy on ethanol should strengthen Thailand's position as the biggest producer of this crop in the future.
It is welcome news that the Commerce Ministry plans to host the World Tapioca Conference from January 15-16 next year to bring together international experts to discuss the prospects of this crop. The outcome of the conference should provide an answer on how to develop tapioca, which should be beneficial for Thai farmers. We should not lose out on an opportunity to continue with the success of this crop, which has been part of our economy for a long time.