22 May 2020
With the hope of exporting 2.3 million tons of rice in 2020-2021 financial year, the government is improving rice export system to receive export earnings not to harm local rice consumption despite COVID-19 infection taking place in the country. Myanmar has exported about 2.5 million tons of rice every year since 2010-2011FY with 2.3 million tons of rice last year. The government expected to export 2.3 million to 2.5 million tons of rice in this financial year. Until now 1.4 million tons of rice has been exported and 900,000 tons of rice are left to export. COVID-19 is bringing local rice demand to rise.The government has also rice reserve and is handling rice export in a systematic manner.
Speaking to MI Radio about the rice reserve they have to buy so as to control rice export, U Aung Than Oo, Chairman of Myanmar Rice Merchants Association, said, “The government already exported 1.4 million tons of rice in this year. It will have to export remaining 900,000 tonnes of rice in the next seven months. About 120,000 tons of rice is required to export a month. We planned to export 1.5 million tons of rice together with reserved rice in April and May. Exporters have to carry out the rice export in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Myanmar Rice Federation. 10 percent of rice reserve was allowed selling. Suitable price for local rice farmers and local rice security have to be taken into consideration. Despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 we are striving to enjoy export earnings from the rice export. We have to buy the rice reserve in order to control the rice export.”
In order to ensure sufficiency of rice in the country, 10 percent of export volume is needed to be kept as the rice reserve. It is learnt that the Ministry of Commerce has to cooperate with rice associations so as to control export balance. The price of one basket of rice on arrival to the warehouse is worth K21600 Export license is issued out only when 10 percent of export volume is sold as the rice reserve and that contributes much toward local rice sufficiency.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Myanmar, consumer goods including rice were bought in bulk. At that time rice demand was high but in May rice market becomes strangely cold. In Yangon rice market, 45,000 to 50,000 baskets of rice are needed a day. The rice demand rose to 150,000 baskets of rice a day. At that time, the officials of the government cooperated with the rice associations and had to deal with the market demand. Moreover they had to discuss rice millers from Ayeyawady and Bago Regions to be able to avoid any rice shortage in the market.
Ko Soe Tint , who the owner of Yonmalay Rice Retail and Wholesale Shop from Hline Township, spoke to MI Radio about the rice demand in the market is high at the start of the virus outbreak but now the rice trade returns to slow, he said, “The current rice trade becomes cold. At the beginning of the outbreak of the COVID-19, the sale force was good, but now it becomes cold. The order has been issued not to go out at night and restaurants have been also banned. Some people bought rice bags in bulk at the start of the virus outbreak. Now the stay home restriction is still in effect and the people don’t buy in bulk again and so the rice price has been stable. The prices of both kinds of rice high quality and low quality have been stable. This time last year the rice trade was brisk. The price of this year does not exceed that of last year. The price K 2000 of rice last year is now K2200. But the current price of this year has been stable.”
The governmental departments have cooperated with rice associations to stabilize the rice price since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, creating the situation for the donors who can buy the rice as much as they can. The equal ground could be created between the growers and the sellers.
The experts expected that the future world would see a rise of food demand. Myanmar is an agricultural country. Local experts predict that if Myanmar carries out agriculture and livestock systematically, it will have favourable market prospects.
According to U Aung Than Oo, Chairman of Myanmar Rice Merchants Association, he spoke to MI Radio about agriculture and livestock should be improved as the country is an agricultural one, he said “In particular, our country relies on agriculture. Our people need to try harder than the past in a bid to improve agriculture and livestock businesses. We always have opportunities because of being an agricultural country. While grasping our advantage, it is necessary for us to improve economy. Some Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand are working in agriculture, livestock breeding, meat and fish sectors in those countries. If they applied their foreign experience in our country, agriculture and livestock breeding sector will be surely improved.”
Zwe Mahn and Pyay Thein