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3. Application of Plasma for Adding Value to Rice for Niche Market


Figure 3.1 Thai farmers are helping each other in growing rain-fed lowland rice, the same way as their ancestors.


         A fertile land of fish and rice is a great reflection of role of rice as crucial part in Thai culture (Figure 3.1).This role has been realized from economy, social and culture. In 2015, Thailand has produced rice as much as 27 million tons of unhusked rice from both on and off-rainy season. It was estimated to 270,000 MBaht. Milled or white rice were exported to the total of 9.8 million tons in the same year to account for 150,000 MBaht. Rice has really strong impact on Thai economy.


Figure 3.2 Riceberry (RB) rice is a fragrant black rice. The dark purple color of its grains is inherited from the father side – Thai Hom Nil rice,
while its fragrance of pandan leaves is inherited from the mother side – Hom Mali 105, Thailand’s finest rice.

         New trend of rice consumption at the global level can be markedly observed. A lot of behavioral shifts are taking place; consumer behaviors keep changing. Trend of consumption for better health, clean, green, and safe is on the rise (Figure 3.2). It needs a disrupt reform to turn Thai rice from basic commodity goods to more advanced or higher value-added products, to enter into new market horizon and to merge into a global food value chain.


Figure 3.3 RB rice is popular among people with a high level of health awareness due to its richness in nutritional value and phytochemical.

         There are quite a few hurdles for the rice market. On the demand and supply side, there are higher supply than demand; few rice cultivars are not well perceived by the market; domestic rice consumption per head per year is declining. On the agricultural standard for rice, there are only a few standards and only to cover for milled jasmine and fragrant rice. There is no agricultural standard for other kinds of rice; causing large variation in quality of those rice. Rice, as sold to the global market now, is a commodity which price is determined primarily by the supply and demand in the market so that it is subjected to fierce competition. Thailand started losing her edge on cheap labors. Low-price product can no longer be the standing point of Thai rice. An integrated approach to manage these changes is needed or else losing our rice exporter champion.


Figure 3.4 Chocolate bar is one of the various products made from RB rice.

         Food innopolis has been launched to connect rice to the global food value chain. An eco-system to translate research work to innovation for higher added value to rice is strongly needed (Figure 3.3). Raising nutritional value and processing to rice flour or starch would help expanding the rice market or entering a new niche market. Marketing campaign for other groups of rice rather than Hom Mali or fragrant rice, e.g., organic rice, waxy rice, parboiled rice, etc., is foreseen (Figure 3.4). Innovative process or paddy management for higher productivity or better quality rice for each acre of paddy field would be highly appreciated for sustaining the rice champion status.


Figure 3.5   After low-pressure plasma treatment (by using the setup shown at the top left corner), contact angle of water drop on this “Plasma RB” rice has a value close to an “untreated milled RB” rice but clearly different from the “untreated RB” rice (as shown on the right). SEM images in the middle part of this figure show that the grain surface of plasma treated rice has higher roughness than the untreated ones. This effect has shortened the RB rice cooking time as represented by the graphical display at the bottom left corner.


        A few research groups have utilized low-pressure plasma for improving properties of rice, including parboiled, brown and pigmented rice, to, for example, shorten cooking time and soften texturing [1,2,3]. As of today, there is no research group using low-pressure plasma on RB rice and indigenous brown rice to improve its cooking time and other physico-chemical properties. This proposal aims to use low-pressure plasma for treating RB and indigenous brown rice to improve their inferior properties while keeping the healthy nutritional values unchanged. Our preliminary study also supports the potential of this utilization (Figure 3.5). One objective of this utilization is to progress it further to community rice mills. In the end of this project, it would help getting larger reception of organic and brown rice, eventually expanding the global rice market of Thai rice.




[1] H. H. Chen, “Investigation of Properties of Long-grain Brown Rice Treated by Low-pressure Plasma”, Food and Bioprocess Technology 7(9) (2014) 2484-2491.
[2] C. Sarangapani, R. Thirumdas, Y. Devi, A. Trimukhe, R. R. Deshmukh and U. S. Annapure, “Effect of Low-pressure Plasma on Physico–chemical and Functional Properties of Parboiled Rice Flour”, LWT-Food Science and Technology 69 (2016) 482-489.
[3] R. Thirumdas, R. R. Deshmukh and U. S. Annapure, “Effect of Low Temperature Plasma Processing on Physicochemical Properties and Cooking Quality of Basmati Rice”, Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 31 (2015) 83-90.

Acknowledgement :  Figures 3.1 – 3.4 are from Rice Science Research, Kasetsart University, Kamphaengsaen Campus. (From )


Principal Investigator : Assistant Professor Dr. Somsak Dangtip 1) Collaborators :   Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manop Suphantharika2), Asst. Prof. Dr. Prasit Suwannalert3), Asst. Prof. Rungtiwa Wongsakornsup4), Dr. Weerawut Chaiwat5), Dr. Asira Fuongfuchat6), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phumin Kirawanich7)


Affiliated Institutes :   1) Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, 2) Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, 3) Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, 4) Food Technology Program, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi Campus, 5) Environmental Engineering and Disaster Management Program, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi Campus, 6) Polymer Physics Laboratory, National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), 7) Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University