Myanmar exports over 1.37 mln tons of rice worth $396 mln in Oct-Feb period


The volume of rice and broken rice exported between 1 October and 28 February in the 2019-2020 fiscal year has been estimated at over 1.37 million metric tons, worth $396.29 million, according to an announcement from the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
In the current financial year, Myanmar has shipped rice to 59 foreign markets.
China is the main buyer of Myanmar rice, followed by Madagascar and the Philippines. Malaysia is the fourth-largest buyer and Guinea, the fifth-largest buyer of Myanmar rice. The European Union countries account for over 15.48 per cent of rice exports, while 37 per cent of rice grown in Myanmar goes to African countries.
In the past five months, Myanmar has exported broken rice mostly to Belgium, followed by Senegal, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Guinea. Broken rice has been placed in 52 foreign markets.
Earlier, border trade was relatively high compared to sea trade in terms of rice exports. Since the previous financial year, border trade has dropped since trade in agricultural products has been halted on account of China clamping down on illegal trade, and currently, it accounts for just 13.8 per cent of the total rice exports, while maritime trade constitutes 86.17 per cent.
Rice exports through the border gates have generated an estimated $50.33 million, whereas income from maritime trade touched $345.96 million as of 28 February in the current FY, as per data from the Commerce Ministry.
At present, MRF is prioritizing domestic market stability and self-sufficiency and working towards these goals by coordinating with government departments and stakeholders in the supply chain, including exporters, traders, depot owners, and millers, according to a press statement issued by the federation on 13 March 2020.
The MRF is monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in the foreign and domestic market, and working with stakeholders in the respective regions and states to govern the market. The federation will call on the government to take systematic measures on exports by involving exporters.
Due to a volatile dollar exchange rate in the local forex market, some exporters have halted rice purchases, causing a slight slump in the domestic market.
“At present, some people are panic-buying food and consumer goods in preparation for the possible negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, some are worrying over a possible price hike in the domestic market in the wake of the coronavirus,” said a market observer.
The government, as well as some associations, have rice reserve schemes. At present, millers and companies are distributing rice at a fair price, according to the MRF. Therefore, people need not be concerned, he said.
The MRF always checks the balance between the rice stocks and self-sufficiency in the country. Myanmar produces more than 14 million tons of rice in the monsoon and summer seasons. Only 8.5 million tons of rice are needed for local consumption and about 2 million tons of rice are used for vermicelli production, leaving an extra four million tons of rice to send to the external market.
This year, over 4 million tons of quality and low-quality rice are stockpiled.
Myanmar shipped 3.6 million tons of rice in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which was an all-time record in rice exports. The export volume plunged to 2.29 million metric tons, worth $691 million, in the 2018-2019 FY. —Ko Khant  (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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