ASEAN Centre for Cassava Research and Development

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Thailand is ASEAN’s second major producer of cassava, after Indonesia, and the world’s largest exporter. While growers are predominantly smallholders, the industry as a whole is supported by strong private sector associations and a vigorous research effort. The focus of research has been on improved yield, starch technology, bioethanol, as well as waste treatment and recovery. In 2012 Thailand had an estimated 1,250,000 Ha under cassava, yielding 180,000 Hg/Ha and producing 22,500,000 tones (source: FAOSTAT).

Currently, there are 24 factories producing ethanol from cassava roots or chips in Thailand, with another 5 under construction. The total capacity in 2011 was 7.73 ML/Day. Major producers include; Thai Nguan Ethanol Co. Ltd., Tai Ping Ethanol Co. Ltd., Subtip Ethanol Co. Ltd. And PSC Starch Production Co. Ltd. Thailand has developed a firm policy for promotion of ethanol as a transportation fuel and has invested in the necessary infrastructure from production, technology through to retail, to implement this.

From the charts it can be seen that acreage and production follow a similar pattern. The slight declines over the 4-year period are likely due to pricing as yields have remained reasonably constant.

The pressing question is now whether Thailand can take advantage of a considerable investment in cassava research by taking yields beyond the 250k barrier, while maintaining the area harvested at current levels.