Agricultural exports surge to $936 mln amid COVID impacts

The agricultural exports have touched a high of US$936.074 million as of 18 December 2020 in the current financial year since 1 October 2020 despite a drastic drop in overall export values amid the COVID-19 impacts.
The figures reflect a significant rise of $156.3 million this FY. The agro exports soared from $779.69 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 agricultural industry’s chief export items 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 other countries. 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 the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
The Commerce Ministry is working to help farmers deal with high input costs, procurement of pedigree seeds, high cultivation costs, and unpredictable 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.
The MADB grants agricultural loans to the small-scale farmers annually. 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 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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