Agricultural exports show increase amid COVID-19 crisis

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Exporters evaluate pulses and beans that are the second in the line of agricultural exports after rice. Photo: Phoe Khwar

The agricultural exports showed a remarkable increase of $68.5 million over the past month in the current financial year despite a drastic drop in overall export values amid the infection surge of COVID-19.
Myanmar’s exports of agricultural products soared to US$519.48 million between 1 October and 20 November this budget year 2020-2021 from $450.95 million in the corresponding period of the 2019-2020FY, according to the trade figures released by the Ministry of Commerce.
Myanmar’s agricultural exports rose regardless of the impact of the coronavirus on foreign demand.
In the exports sector, the agriculture industry performed the best, accounting for 22 per cent of overall exports. The chief items of export in the agricultural sector are rice and broken rice, pulses and beans and maize. Fruits and vegetables, sesame, dried tea leaves, sugar, and other agro products are also shipped to foreign markets.
Myanmar agro products are primarily exported to China, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Sometimes, the export market remains uncertain due to unsteady global demand.
The country requires specific export plans for each agro product, as they are currently exported to external markets based upon supply and demand. Contract farming systems, the involvement of regional and state agriculture departments, exporters, traders, and some grower groups, are required to meet production targets, said an official from the Agriculture Department.
More than 100,000 acres of monsoon paddy have been cultivated under the contract farming system this year, according to Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). The Commerce Ministry is working to help farmers deal with challenges such as high input costs and variable weather conditions.
Myanma Agricultural Development Bank (MADB) under the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry has notified the farmers of agricultural loans for the current financial year.
In a bid to mitigate the impacts stricken by the COVID-19, the bank also provided an additional loan of K50,000 per acre under the COVID-19 Special Relief Loan Scheme between June and September 2020. Moreover, it cut the loan interest rate from eight to five per cent during the COVID-19 crisis.
MADB yearly grants agricultural loans to the small-scale farmers. The paddy farmers can take out loans of K150,000 per acre, while the growers of other crops including sugarcane, can get K100,000 per acre. They have to put the original of Farmland Permit Form (7) up for collateral to secure the loan under the personal guarantee system.—Ko Htet (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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