The prices of black gram RC (urad) have been moving onwards since the first week of June 2022 and touched a high of K1,537,500 per tonne.
Newly harvested black grams stayed below K1.5 million per tonne in May. The price hit K1,537,500 per tonne on 11 June. Black gram fetched only K1.41 million per tonne on 12 May. The figures reflect an increase of K120,000 per tonne within one week.
Cultivation of black gram and various beans and pulses
Delta regions see the cultivation of summer paddy, chilli pepper and black gram as intercropping practice after the monsoon paddy season ends. The black gram is successfully yielded in the delta regions. The majority of the beans are harvested in winter rather than monsoon season. Tropical central Myanmar regions witness a large number of bean acres in the monsoon season.
The Delta region is a major production area for the winter bean season. Hinthada, Wakema and Kyaunggon areas do a roaring trade in black gram.
As Myanmar practised a socialist economic system from 1962, private ownership was discouraged. The country adopted a new market economy policy in 1988 and the private sector was allowed to generate profits in rice, beans and pulses production and exports.
In the past 34 years, beans and pulses exports contributed to foreign exchange earnings. The beans have become one of the important agricultural export items.
The yield of the bean was estimated at 24.16 million baskets from 9.63 million sowing acres in the 2020-2021 Financial Year, according to the statement of a related department.
Black grams acquiring foreign market share
Myanmar shipped US$1,324.27 million worth of 1.75 million tonnes of various pulses in the 2020-2021 Financial Year.
There were 1.8 million acres of beans and pulses in the 1988-1989 Financial Year and Myanmar exported only 40,000 tonnes to its foreign trade partners then.
In the 2000-2001FY, the country had over 7.3 million bean acres and export volumes reached 800,000 tonnes. During the 2001-2002FY and 2003-2004 period, the 2008-2009FY and 2012-2013FY period, over one million tonnes of various beans were yearly exported.
Black gram price changes in the Yangon market
India is the main buyer of Myanmar’s black gram and its demand is highly correlated with the black gram market in Yangon.
If India faces low yield due to extreme weather conditions, it will highly purchase the black gram and pigeon peas from Myanmar, bean traders elaborated.
The price of black gram (RC) was K2,456,000 per tonne while the Special Quality black gram fetched K2,576,000 per tonne on 17 October 2015. The price drastically plunged to K345,000 per tonne of black gram (RC) on 1 January 2009.
There is a price gap of K2 million per tonne of the black gram between 2008 and 2017.
Some events affecting the black gram market
Out of the market events in the past decade (2008-2017) in Yangon, over K200 billion in scams of some traders dealt a huge blow to the beans and pulses market. After that, India temporarily restricted bean import for six months. Myanmar’s bean prices plummeted. The related institutions suggested the growers reduce the growing acreage.
Additionally, advanced purchases were highly seen in mid-2018 in Yangon Region. However, there was a significant price gap of K300,000 between the advanced purchase rate in mid-2018 and the actual market rate in late-2018. Some traders had difficulty making advanced payments due to the huge gap. There were over 500 victims involved in the scandal related to eight unscrupulous B&P traders, rendering losses of K203 billion, according to the media statement then. Following the scam, the advanced purchase was still witnessed in Yangon and Mandalay cities yet some B&P traders fled with the money. To avoid unnecessary fraudulent cases, the authorities directed the traders to make immediate payment for the beans and pulses.
India’s policy changes on the importation of beans in August 2017 negatively affected Myanmar’s black gram and pigeon peas market. The export came to an abrupt halt, forcing the Bayintnaung wholesale market to temporarily shut down at the end of August 2017. The price of black gram was down by K200,000 per tonne when the market was reopened. The downward trend of the black gram market extended until mid-2018.
In late August 2017, the institutions concerned issued the reference rate at K500,000 per tonne for black gram and K400,00 for pigeon peas. The related association also encouraged the growers through the state-run newspapers to turn to other crops before mid-2018.
Shortly after the announcement, the news was that India would return to buy black gram and pigeon peas under import quota and restricted time. India gave green light to bean imports in line with its rules and regulations. As a result, the black gram price hit around K1.5 million per tonne.
This year, the growers who will carry out sequential cropping after monsoon paddy season along the river delta regions are unlikely to reap a large profit owing to a hike in fuel oil prices and high prices of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and pesticide, B&P market observers said.