RANGOON — Rice prices and exports have experienced a sharp drop this year as a result of a tightening of import restrictions by China, Myanmar Rice Federation Chairman Chit Khaing said on Thursday.
The slump in rice prices comes ahead of the start of the main rice harvest season and could have a serious impact on the livelihood of Burma’s farmers, already among the country’s poorest groups.
Chit Khaing said prices currently stood at about US$330 per 100 baskets of paddy (about 1,500 kilogram), down from about $400 per 100 baskets last year.
“Due to this big drop in prices a lot of farmers will face problems,” he said, adding that a tightening of Chinese border controls on the quality of Burmese rice and a crackdown on the smuggling of rice had caused the drop in demand and prices.
“At the same time, Thailand is increasing its rice sales on the international market too, that’s why paddy prices here keep falling,” he said, adding that domestic rice demand had already been met.
Until now, China had been buying up more than half of all Burma’s annual rice export, with much of the low quality paddy produced in the Irrawaddy Delta and central regions flowing across the Burma-China border with few border checks and through smuggling routes.
A World Bank report in June said the government would need to take a range of measures to improve the quality of rice through investments in rice mills, while it should also reduce transport costs and formulate policies to support rice export and agricultural production.
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