Monday, September 25, 2017

Exportable rice to double next year: MRPTA

Surplus rice production slated for export is likely to be doubled in the next harvest season, the chief of a major rice exporting association said on July 7.

U Aung Than Oo, the president of the Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders’ Association (MRPTA) made the comments after returning from the Middle East Africa and Asia Rice Summit 2009, which was held in Dubai from June 27 to 29.

“We plan to double the exports of surplus rice after the next major harvest season. But we believe that we will also encounter some intense price competition internationally because we expect world rice production to rise in the coming year,” U Aung Than Oo said.

Government regulations allow only rice deemed surplus to the nation’s needs to be exported, guaranteeing that prices for the staple of most diets remains stable.

MRPTA statistics show that Myanmar’s rice surplus last financial year was 3.24 million tonnes, while exports were 700,000 tonnes and earned nearly $201 million, up 96pc from the $103 million earned in the 2007-08 financial year.

There are 45 companies allowed to export, with these companies typically focussing on Bangladesh, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. These three destinations account for about 85pc of all exports.

However, this rice is the relatively low-quality and cheap ehmeta 5-percent broken and 25pc broken varieties. Last month, the president of the Myanmar Fertiliser and Pesticide Association, U Thadoe Hein told The Myanmar Times that the 25pc broken rice accounts for 80pc of exports.

A rice exporter said the 5pc broken variety sells for about $410 a tonne, while the lower-grade rice sells for about $290.

U Aung Than Oo said Myanmar can compete price-wise internationally but suffers in the quality battle.

“Our production costs in the agricultural sector are quite low, giving us room to compete with our overseas competitors but our issue lies with quality. We have to upgrade to higher quality rice strains and improve both our production techniques and our packing. “If we want to get a solid hold in the international market we really need to put heavy emphasis on improving our quality,” he reiterated.

Dr Maung Aung, a senior economist and researcher for the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), agreed that lifting the quality of rice for exports is crucial to improve export earnings.