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May 29, 2020

Rice export price surges amid Covid-19

The prices of rice in the export market rose a bit in March compared with the prices of previous months, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
The price of white rice variety (well-milled) was priced US$300-305 per metric ton in January and February 2020. In March, the price slightly climbed to $315-325. Similarly, low-quality rice variety (reasonably well-milled) saw a significant increase last month against the prices in January and February, rising from $265-270 to $285-295 per metric ton.
However, broken rice variety in the last three months (Jan-March) remained flat at 280-290 for (A1:2), $260-270 for B1:2 (sortexed), $245-255 for B1:2 (non-sortexed), $240-245 for (B2:3:4 non-sortexed), according to the MRF. Moreover, the prices of parboiled rice varieties, high-quality rice variety (Pawsan) and low-quality rice variety (Ngasein) in March are not largely unchanged against the previous months.
The foreign market purchases our rice as the price is cheaper than other Asian countries. If they do not ship the rice at a low price, there will be no market for export, said an official of Bayintnaung commodity depot.
Myanmar primarily exports rice to China through land borders. However, trade-in agricultural products have been frequently halted on account of China clamping down on illegal trade. At present, 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. Owing to a volatile dollar exchange rate in the local forex market, some exporters have halted rice purchases at the end of March.
“In the meantime, 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.
To tackle with this, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and its affiliated organizations including MRF and Myanmar Rice & Paddy Traders Association have started selling basic food commodities at the much fairer price in the townships where industrial zones are located, said UMFCCI Vice-Chair Dr Maung Maung Lay.
MRF has already notified the public not to believe misinformation and disinformation and reaffirmed them the other day not to worry about any possible shortage of rice as they have an adequate supply of rice in the domestic market.
Regardless of MRF’s attempt to control the unnecessary price hike, the prices of rice surged due to growing demand, according to Yangon Wadan Commodity Depot. At present, the summer paddy is going to be harvested and the number of rice stocks has become lesser, said some traders.
The prices of rice currently move in the ranges of K36,000-53,000 per 108-pound-bag of Pawsan varieties, while low-quality rice fetched 20,500-23,500. The price is up by 500-, 10,000 per bag against previous months, the MRF data showed.
During the October-February period of the current fiscal year 2019-2020, 1.3 million metric tons of rice and broken rice were shipped to foreign countries, with an estimated value of $396.29 million.
Myanmar shipped 3.6 million tons of rice in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which was a record in rice exports. The export volume plunged to 2.29 million metric tons, worth $691 million, in the 2018-2019 FY. — Ko Htet (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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