Rice prices down in Rangoon as sales slow

Oct 9, 2008 (DVB), The price of low-quality rice at Bayintnaung rice market in Rangoon has dropped as sales are slow compared to other years, according to rice merchants.

A trader in the former capital said the price of a bag of ‘Nwe-cial’ rice had gone down from 17000 to 16000 kyat.

Another trader said sales were slow in part because people from Laputta, one of the areas severely affected by Cyclone Nargis in May, were not coming to buy rice in Rangoon as before.

Merchants said that rice exports were also down, and rice intended for export was being sold back onto Bayintnaung market.

One trader said that workers had been laid off due to the slow trade.

The government has begun to allow rice from Rangoon to be sold in other regions, in contrast to the usual regulations which forbid transportation of rice from one region to another for sale.

Economist Sein Htay said sales were down because people were unable to afford to buy as much rice as usual.

"People are not buying it not because there is a surplus, but just that they can’t afford it," Sein Htay said.

"In Hlaing Tharyar, they have to drink rice water because people have no jobs and no money," he said.

"Also the foreign export market is not good , Burmese rice does not have a good image on the international market due to its poor quality compared to rice from other countries. That’s why rice is piled up in depots in Burma."

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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