More than 249,245 tonnes of various pulses and beans were exported to foreign markets between 1 October and 4 December of the current financial year 2020-2021, with an estimated value of US$217 million, the Commerce Ministry’s data indicated.
Over the past two months, the country shipped $158.24 million worth 195,104 tonnes of pulses and beans to foreign markets, and $58.783 million valued 54,141 tonnes were sent to neighbouring countries through border crossings.
Myanmar’s agriculture sector is the backbone of the country’s economy and contributes to over 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Products. The country primarily cultivates paddy, corn, cotton, sugarcane, various pulses and beans. The second-largest production is the pulses and beans, counting for 33 per cent of agro products and covering 20 per cent of growing acres. Among them, black bean, pigeon peas and green grams constitute 72 per cent of bean acreage. Other beans including peanut, chickpea, soybean, black-eyed beans, butter bean and rice bean are also grown in the country.
India is the leading buyer of Myanmar beans, especially black beans, green grams and pigeon peas. Besides India, Myanmar’s beans are purchased by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Dubai, Malaysia, Indonesia, China (Taipei), Japan, and European countries. But, the volume of demand by those countries is small, according to the domestic beans market.
At present, black bean is priced lower than K1 million per tonne due to the supply of fresh bean in the domestic market and lower price by Indian traders. Similarly, pigeon peas’ price dropped when the new beans enter the market amid the low demand by foreign countries. However, green gram market raised its head on the back of steady demand by China and other ASEAN countries.
The domestic bean market is positively related to the law of supply and demand, said Secretary U Min Ko Oo of the Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchants Association.
Myanmar has a stock of below 100,000 tonnes of
black bean and about 30,000 tonnes of pigeon peas in the warehouses, the association stated.
On 22 May 2020, India rapidly changed the import period of black bean (400,000 tonnes) to three months by August-end 2020 from the earlier set
deadline of March 2021, prompting Myanmar’s bean body to call for an extension of the deadline, as per its official notice.
Although the bean body asked to extend the August-end deadline, India still has not responded to the request. Myanmar exported only 100,000 tonnes of black beans then, the association stated.
On 1 October 2020, India issued a notification to purchase 150,000 tonnes of black beans instead, and the import deadline is March 2021. The licence will be equally granted for India’s companies.
Although Myanmar does not have adequate stock, for now, it can reach the quota of 150,000 tonnes, along with the beans which are harvested this season, U Min Ko Oo maintained.
Since 2017, India has been setting import quota on beans, including black bean and pigeon peas. Therefore, the growers face difficulties to export their beans to India market.
Myanmar has to export black bean and pigeon peas to India under a quota system and limit period. Consequently, there is no guarantee that we could get the fair market price next year, a market observer shared his opinion.
Following the uncertainty in black bean and pigeon peas markets, the association suggested in October that the growers cultivate black-eyed bean more.
The Ministry of Commerce has been conducting a series of discussions to sell Myanmar’s beans through government-to-government (G2G) pacts. Besides, the ministry has been exploring more external markets, said U Aung Htoo, Deputy Minister for Commerce.
India’s move to restrict importation of pulses in August, 2017 severely affected growers in Myanmar. The price of pulses also drastically plummeted.
In the 2017-2018FY, over a million tonnes of mung beans, pigeon peas, and green grams were shipped to foreign countries. But, the earnings have registered at just $713 million owing to the price drop.
Myanmar shipped over 1.6 million tonnes of different varieties of pulses, especially mung beans, with an estimated worth of US$1 billion, to other counties in the FY2018-2019. During last FY2019-2020 ended 30 September, the country delivered 1.6 million tonnes with an estimated value of $1.195 billion. — Ko Htet (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)