Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rice price stable despite floods

The worst monsoon flooding in more than 20 years has had only a slight impact on the price of rice because the floodwaters did not hit the country’s main rice-growing areas, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation.

U Aung Zaw Oo, a joint secretary at the federation, said the wholesale price of 25 percent broken rice had risen K500 per 49 kilogram sack to K15,500 but would likely fall the same amount next month.

He said the price rose this month after rice mills in flood-hit areas, primarily in Mon and Kayin states, were unable to supplymarkets in cities because roads became impassable. He added, however, that there would be no supply shortage because the government had a large buffer stock and traders also had large supplies.

U Aung Zaw Oo also said the governmentmay allocate more money to buy rice from farmers this season through its rice buffer stock committee but said it was too early to provide a figure. Farmers in several regions and states whose crops were destroyed said this would not help them. Their most pressing need is their inability to pay down debts, they said.Aid workers said Kayin State was the hardest hit. One international relief agency, which asked not to be named, said almost 90 percent of the state’s rice crop was destroyed.

Floodwaters destroyed rice on 39,010 acres of the state’s total 44,000 acres of rice fields, the agency said. It said that 6733 families, comprising 34,284 people in total, lost their rice crop in that state alone. Reliable nationwide data was unavailablelate last week, but reports from villages in Yangon and Ayeyarwady regions suggest the disaster could take affected farmers at least one year to recover from.

U Hlaing Win, who farms 17 acres near Malitt village in Yangon Region’s Hlegu township, said farmers in his village lost 300 acres of paddy. “The paddy was destroyed. We have start all over again,” he said. Farmers in the village still have debts from last year and cannot obtain new loans to buy fertiliser and seed, he added. “It costs more than K50,000 to plant one acre. Interest rates on our debts are rising, but our crop was destroyed,” U Hlaing Win said.

“For the last three years floods have damaged or destroyed crops. We need better drainage systems,” he added.

U Tin Htay Aung, who farms 150 acres in Ayeyarwady Region’s Pyapon township, said floodwaters had destroyed two-thirds of his crop. More than 900 acres of rice near his village, Kyat Pha Mhwe Zaung, were ruined, he added. Residents of Ingapu village in Ayeyarwady Region say more than 3000 acres of rice were lost in the first floods to hit the area in five years. Meanwhile, three energy firms announced donations to flood victims in Taninthayi Region.

France-based Total, Malaysia-based Petronas and Thai-based PTTEP donated food and potable water to flood-affected families in the region where 157 homes in Kalaungain township were swept away by floodwaters on July 31.