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Burma, also known as Myanmar, is planning to replace white rice with parboiled rice for local consumption citing health and cost benefits of parboiled rice over white rice, according to local sources.
The Ministry of Health and Myanmar Rice Millers Association (MRMA) have jointly started a campaign to promote the use of parboiled rice. The Secretary of MRMA noted that parboiled rice is more nutritious and contains vitamin C, adding that it is 15 percent cheaper than white rice. He says since parboiled rice is produced by steaming and drying before being crushed, it yields full nutrition unlike white rice, which has more broken rice content. Also, vitamin B1 content in white rice is reduced when rinsed, but not in parboiled rice, he adds.
Already foreign demand for Burma’s parboiled rice is increasing. According to the Myanmar Rice Industry Association (MRIA), Burma’s parboiled rice exports are likely to surge to 300,000 tons in the fiscal year 2014-15 (April – March), up almost nine times from a mere 30,000 tons in 2013-14. The government is keen on increasing market for parboiled rice locally as well.
The government is increasing the capacity of parboiled rice in the country to 300,000 tons per annum, according to a board director of Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation (MAPC). He noted that the government has completed 90 percent of new parboiled mills’ construction and expects to make them ready before the monsoon harvest. He noted that ten imported steam-rice machines from Japan, which can produce up to 1,800 tons of parboiled rice per day with proper electric supply, are being installed in these mills, adding that parboiled rice mills with smaller capacities of 50-ton and 100-ton per day are also being constructed.
Burma’s total rice exports in FY 2013-14 declined about 29 percent to one million tons from previous year because of reduced demand in China and political turmoil in Thailand, according to the MRIA Chairman. He however expects Burma to export up to 1.5 million tons of rice in FY 2014-15.
USDA estimates Burma to produce 12.15 million tons rice in MY 2014-15 (January – December) and export 1.3 million tons in 2014.
This article was originally published in Oryza on 2 June 2014.