Cyclone impacts on food prices and border trade

May 17, 2008 (DVB), The price of some basic necessities in Burma has soared following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis to rice fields and salt farms, while border trade has dwindled.

A rice seller in Rangoon said that some shops were facing shortages of rice and prices were rising steeply.

"We are selling it bit by bit as rice hasn't come from the main source [the Irrawaddy delta] where most of the rice fields were destroyed," he said.

Despite the shortage of rice in Rangoon, it is continuing to be exported to Bangladesh in accordance with earlier agreements between the countries' governments, a source close to the rice merchants said.

The price of salt has also leapt due to the destruction of salt farms and the deaths of many salt workers in the delta region, which has mean that salt now has to be imported from Thailand.

The price of fuel has decreased slightly.

The best-selling items in Rangoon over the past week have been candles due to continued electricity shortages, while fish has sold badly.

Border trade was down by 90 percent last week in Myawaddy, on the border with Thailand, while border trade with India has also been quiet.

Dried plums have been exported to China and Chinese mechanical goods and building materials, including 3000 motorcycles in the past week have entered Burma.

There have been reports of foreign aid for storm victims being sold as far away as Tachileik in Shan State in eastern Burma, near the border with Thailand.

Reporting by DVB

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