Sunday, August 20, 2017

Singaporean investment starts rice production for international export

A parboiling-rice mill which involved US$8 million investment was launched in Dedaye township, Ayeyarwady Region by agribusiness firm Agrastar on May 5. The mill will produce high-quality parboiled rice for export to the European market.

Inside the Agrastar rice production and export facility. Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesInside the Agrastar rice production and export facility. Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

Agrastar, a partnership between Chin Corp Myanmar, Agrocorp International, and RiverWest Capital, was formed to supply high-quality agricultural commodities from Myanmar to the global market, and especially to Europe.

The rice production and export facility is completely automated to process 75,000 tonnes of paddy annually – producing high-quality parboiled, brown and white rice. Agrastar aims to double the mill’s size by the end of 2018 and subsequently expand into other sites in the delta area to increase production capacity.

Vijay Iyengar, Agrocorp managing director, said that it was a moment for Agrocorp to reinvest into a country that has helped the company grow over the past three decades. He also hoped that this project will be the first of many such ventures for Agrocorp in Myanmar.

Singapore ambassador Robert Chua remarked that it was fantastic to see a Singaporean investment as part of a wider plan for ASEAN collaboration in the Ayeyarwady Region. He said that Singapore had contributed to rebuilding efforts in the Dedaye area following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis a few years ago.

Parboiled rice is marketed as “easy cook rice” in the EU. Easy cook rice is quickly growing in popularity as a more health-conscious option. Consumers are increasingly conscious of healthy eating while expecting minimal time for preparation.

Mr Iyengar said that Agrastar already got an approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission and the idea is to produce quality rice that is ready for overseas market. Although the product is not consumed in Myanmar, it’s in high demand overseas.

“The idea is to take the Myanmar brand to the world. We hope to give back to the farming community through this mill – to allow them to sell to us, and at the same time we will hope to engage the farming community with some CSR activities,” he said.

“Having buyers from Europe and Africa are two major areas where we want to sell. The price will be competitive as our mill is high-tech and big [in] scale. And the price of paddy is competitive as well,” he added.

According to the market research by Agrastar, only 8pc of rice mills in Myanmar are over 100 tonnes in capacity and only 10pc can produce high-quality export rice.