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Burma’s rice stockpiles are expected to last until December, despite the loss in production due to devastating flooding and landslides during the recent monsoon season, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Some 1.4 million acres of paddies were damaged, and more than 800, 000 acres completely destroyed in the nationwide floods, compelling the government to lay down a ban on rice exports, which it is now set to lift.
State media reported on Sunday that despite the slowdown in production, more than 500,000 tonnes of rice remain in the country. Win Myint Naing, the president of the Ayeyarwady [Irrawaddy] Region Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that a significant proportion of fields thankfully remained undamaged. The Irrawaddy delta, considered to be the “rice bowl of Burma”, was largely unaffected by the disaster.
“More than 300,000 acres of rice fields [in the region] were submerged by the floods, but more than 200,000 acres emerged undamaged,” Myint Naing told state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.
“Furthermore, of the 100,000 acres of rice fields that were totally destroyed, more than 70,000 acres have been replanted.”
Removal of the ban has arrived exactly on schedule – the Ministry of Trade and Commerce originally set the temporary halt on rice exports to expire on 15 September, following the recommendation of the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). The government initially imposed the ban on 7 August.
Ministry Permanent Secretariat Toe Aung Myint told DVB on 4 September that the ban was necessary in light of price hikes across the country, but that the ministry would closely monitor the timeline of the ban so as not to negatively impact the export market.
“The ban was introduced due to the nationwide flood disaster. However, the government also wishes to maintain its strength in the export market, so we are weighing these factors and coordinating procedures with the concerned departments and organisations,” he said.
Minister of Commerce Win Myint made the announcement to at the annual meeting of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers on 9 September, industry magazine Oryza reported. “Rice has been re-planted in some areas and after we calculated the effect of the flooding, we decided to re-open the market to exports,” Win Myint told the meeting.
Burma’s rice exports have been rising consistently for the past few years. The country sent abroad around 1.8 million tons of rice in 2014. The MRF said it expects a paddy output of around 14 million tons (around 8.96 million tons, milled) in 2015. The government has been targeting exports of around 2 million tons of rice this year.
Read more about Burma’s rice industry
Read more about the flooding crisis