By KHINE KYAW
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
He said at the “TRT Myanmar Rice Network” conference sponsored by The Rice Trader, a rice-industry publication, that the plan included government to government agreements, business matching and establishing market linkages between Myanmar rice exporters and international traders in Asia, Africa and Europe.
“Our exports of 25-per-cent broken rice have been penetrating markets in African and European countries. In order to promote rice trading, we are making G2G agreements with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines,” he said.
Recently, the Sri Lankan government proposed the purchase of 50,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar. Aung Htoo urged exporters to focus on countries where rice imports are expected to increase, namely Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Senegal, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius and Togo, as well as the European Union.
“For proper rice-sector development, we should emphasise harmonisation and modernisation of the supply-chain mechanism, from production to milling and export. Moreover, we need to build up our capacity to modernise rice milling and warehousing,” he said.
Aung Htoo said dry ports and logistic hubs would be established to facilitate trade. To promote regular seaborne trade, Myanmar needs to meet sanitary and quarantine requirements and food-labelling standards as well as to strengthen rules for food safety and hygiene.
He believes that rice exports will increase over the next few years, driven by stronger demand from China and the EU. Myanmar rice and corn production is forecast to rise in fiscal year 2017-18, thanks to increased utilisation of farm mechanisation and higher-yield seeds.
Aung Htoo said 70 per cent of rural people in Myanmar depended on rice production. Currently, domestic consumption of rice is about 88 per cent of the production, and only 12 per cent is available for exports. A large percentage of Myanmar rice exports go to China through border trade.
“In recent days, Myanmar traders encountered problems from China’s crackdown on undocumented inflows. We have been supporting regular overseas rice exports by exploring new markets and strengthening the existing ones,” he said.
Cross-border deliveries to China have accounted for two-thirds of Myanmar’s rice shipments over the past five years.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the outlook for rice export has improved for Myanmar, attracting more interest from African and Sri Lankan buyers. The country’s rice exports set a record of 1.7 million tonnes in 2015.
Aung Htoo is optimistic that Myanmar has big potential for rice exports, as it has a land area more than 653,000 square kilometres, twice the size of Vietnam, which the FAO expects to export 6.9 million tonnes of rice this year. He said any disruption in the rice supply chain could have impacts on other sectors, as the rice sector is substantial. He added that Myanmar needed to upgrade its agricultural sector by promoting modern ecosystems to produce high-quality products to grasp opportunities and rising demand.