Thailand has exported 9.3 million tonnes of rice so far this year, mostly to China and countries in Africa, the commerce ministry said on Monday, well short of the government's target for 2016.
From January to Dec. 14, 2016 Thailand signed export agreements for 9.3 million tonnes of rice worth 146 million baht ($4.07 million), said Duangporn Rodphaya, chief of the ministry's foreign trade department.
Early this month, Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn said Thailand's rice exports this year would reach 10.5 million tonnes, above an earlier target of 9.5 million tonnes.
In a statement on Monday, Duangporn said Thailand, the world's second-largest rice exporter after India, will meet its rice export target this year and has until early January to finalize export agreements.
The top importers of Thai rice this year were Benin, Ivory Coast, South Africa, China and Cameroon, she added.
Thailand has stocks of about 8 million tonnes left over from a rice-buying scheme under the previous government that paid farmers well above market rates for their rice.
Most of the rice has been stored for more than five years, the foreign trade department said, making it difficult to sell it at target prices and to find potential buyers.
The current military government has been trying to sell off stockpiles from the scheme through several state auctions since it took power in 2014.
Duangporn said the rice could be used for industrial purposes, adding that the government plans to offload all of the remaining rice stocks from the scheme by end-2017.
Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Sunil Nair, Reutuers