Myanmar earns US$176 million from rice shipment in two months

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Myanmar ships 277,502 metric tons of rice and broken rice to foreign markets via sea in the current financial year. Photo: Phoe Khwar

By Kyaw Htike Soe

Myanmar made 467,020 metric tons of rice and broken rice shipment to 43 countries as of December 11 in the financial year 2020-2021, fetching 176 million US dollars, according to data updated by the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). Myanmar’s rice export via its border trade camps was 189,517 metric tons, accounting for almost 41 per cent of the total rice exports.
Myanmar’s rice exports via the border gates generated US$72 million in the current financial year. The country’s maritime rice export accounted for 59 per cent of the total rice exports in the present financial year, fetching an estimated income of US$105 million, figures from the MRF shows. Myanmar freighted 277,502 metric tons of rice and broken rice to foreign countries via sea routes during the same period. Myanmar surpassed its rice export target of 2.5 million tonnes in 2019-2020FY, the MRF said. China is the main buyer of Myanmar rice, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Poland is the fourth-largest buyer and Vietnam, the fifth-largest buyer of Myanmar rice. China accounts for over 77.81 per cent of total rice exports, while 12.12 per cent of Myanmar’s rice export goes to European Union countries.
ASEAN countries constitute 8.43 per cent of Myanmar’s total rice exports. Myanmar has freighted broken rice mostly to China, followed by Belgium, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Netherlands. The Southeast Asian country aims to export 4 million tonnes of rice and broken rice in the current financial year, U Aung Than Oo, vice-president of the MRF told the media. Myanmar is looking to become one of the world’s top three rice exporters in the next few years. Myanmar cannot practise price reduction strategies based on competition to cover the production and logistic costs. All export procedures and port costs should be revised with a view to improving the competitiveness of Myanmar rice. The issue of high transportation costs, which cause problems in the supply chain, is also being addressed so as to keep up with the countries in the region.

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Workers unloading sacks of rice from a cargo ship at Botahtaung Jetty in Yangon. Photo: Phoe Khwar

To boost rice production, the country is tackling the challenges of erratic weather, capacity and technical know-how to produce value-added products and dependence on foreign market demand. The Ministry of Commerce recently confirmed that ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines express their interest to import rice from Myanmar. The ministry is trying utmost to help farmers deal with challenges such as high input costs, procurement of quality seeds, high cultivation costs, and erratic weather conditions. Myanmar exports many rice varieties, and not all are expensive high-quality varieties. Following the coronavirus resurgence in Myanmar, rice was highly demanded in the domestic market. Myanmar yearly produces 13 million metric tons of rice.
Rice accounts for more than 30 per cent of the value of all crops produced in Myanmar. More than 75 per cent of total rice production is consumed in the country where over 70 per cent of the total populations reside in rural areas and 20 per cent of surplus rice is exported to foreign countries and 10 per cent is kept as a reserve. Thanks to the expansion of rice markets globally, Myanmar’s rice exports have risen to the highest level in 55 years in the budget year 2017-18, with rice and broken rice exports to foreign countries increased to more than 3 million tonnes, earning US$ 949 million and 1.39 million tons of rice worth US$406 million was shipped by sea, the ministry said.
Myanmar exported 1.4 million metric tons of rice and broken rice in 2015-2016 FY, 1.7 million metric tons in 2016-2017FY, about 3.6 million metric tons in 2017-2018FY, over 2.35 million metric tons in 2018-2019FY, and 2.586 metric tons in 2019-2020FY. The Southeast Asian nation earned some US$618 million from rice export in the financial year 2015-2016, US$405 million in 2016-2017FY, US$1.356 billion in 2017-2018FY, US$710 million in 2018-2019FY, and US$795 million in 2019-2020FY.

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