The Ministry of Commerce has guaranteed that there will be enough buffer stock,5 million metric tons of rice, for domestic consumption until the next harvest in November 2015. According to the ministry figures, Myanmar grows about 17 million acres of rice per year, and the yearly harvest is approximately 15 million metric tons out of which around 12 million is consumed domestically. U Myint Cho, Director of the Trade Promotion Department. has quoted that once the flood water recedes, we can regrow enough for domestic consumption in time. Furthermore, rice can be grown and harvested every 3 months so there is no real cause for worry.
The Myanmar Rice Federation, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Irrigation, has set up plans for distribution of rice seed for re-growing rice in the flood affected areas.
U AungThanOo, Vice-Chair of the Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders Association, has also told us that should shortages arise, the Myanmar government has given permission to import rice from abroad. He also reiterated that there was sufficient buffer stock and efforts are underway to increase the stockpiles.
U Chit KoKo, a rice merchant was quoted as "the same thing happen in the aftermath of the Cyclone Nargis in 2008 when many panicked and started hoarding rice. A bag of Pawsan (containing 24 Pyis or roughly 100 Kilos) went up to 20,000 Kyats and later went back down to 12,000 Kyats in 2008. So I would advise the people not to worry too much.
We have also received news that the rice merchants have reprimanded some dealers who were selling at excessive prices (up to 10,000 Kyats more per bag) but have not done anything about some retailers selling at about 1,000 Kyats more.
U AungThanOo further elaborated that many rice millers and farmers still have a substantial amount of unprocessed rice in their hands. The Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) also holds a stock of over 100,000 metric tons. Moreover, should the need arise, the association has obtained permission form the Union Government to import rice.
The Rice Merchants Association has also stated that a bag of rough rice can be bought for around 17,000 Kyats at their Wardan trading center, for donation or consumption. The total volume daily moved from the Ayeyarwady region is about 40,000 bags and the price has risen about 2,000 Kyats per bag, compared to the last week’s.
U Chit Khine, from the Myanmar Rice Federation, stated on the 6th of August at a press conference that rice exports were temporarily suspended for 6 weeks to prevent domestic shortages.
After nationwide floods, rice prices have steadily risen and many citizens are worried about food security and the state of the buffer stock. They would also like to know how much is being stocked and how long will these last. U Chit Khine asserted that the temporary export suspension was contrary to market demands but was executed with the primary aim of keeping prices down to an acceptable level and to prevent stock-outs.