Native starch industry of Thailand
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The Native Starch Industry of Thailand plays an important role in the economy of Thailand. Native starch is extracted from the root of the tapioca plant, which has the ability to grow in dry weather and low-nutrient soils where other crops do not grow well. Tapioca roots can be stored in the ground for up to 24 months, and some species for up to 36 months, thus harvest may be extended until market conditions are favorable or native starch production capacity is available.
The total area of tapioca plantations in Thailand during 2007 was about 7.48 million Rai (1 Rai = 1600 square meters), allowing the production of about 26.41 million tons of native starch and generating income of about 29,581 million Baht. The largest proportion of tapioca plantations in Thailand is in the Northeast region. The top 5 provinces with highest plantation areas are Nakhon Ratchasima, Kampangpetch, Chaiyaphum, Srakaew and Chachoengsao.
Types of production
The Tapioca agricultural industry in Thailand has three types of production as follows:
- Native starch production (dry powder, slurry and cake)
- Modified starch production
- Starch derivatives production (glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, sorbitol, etc.)
According to the Information and Communication Technology Bureau, Department of Industrial Works, there are 93 native starch factories as of 2007. Northeastern Thailand has the highest number of native starch factories (46%) followed by the East region (31%), Central region (15%) and North region (8%) respectively. Native starch factories are typically located in the same areas as tapioca plantations.
Thailand is the world's largest exporter of products of the tapioca agricultural industry. The market share is around 75% of the total export value - over 40,000 million Baht per year. Important markets include Japan, Taiwan, China and Indonesia. Tapioca starch from Thailand is also in great demand by countries in Central America and South America.
Over the past decades, the number of native starch factories has been increased to respond to customers’ demands and, consequently, the native starch industry is becoming more competitive. Thus, native starch factories are required to assure product quality, to offer competitive product pricing and to improve their productivity.
- Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, 2007