Rice Federation Calls for Export Halt on Flood Shortage Fears

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 3 August 2015

RANGOON — The Myanmar Rice Federation has asked its members to stop exporting until mid-September, after dramatic rice price rises in flooded areas and fears of a sharp drop in harvest yields across the country.

Soe Tun, the joint secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation, said in a Facebook post that the federation had the Myanmar Rice Traders Association and exporters to stop exports until Sept. 15 in order to protect domestic consumers from price volatility.

Flooding in recent weeks has ruined rice crops across northern Burma. On Sunday, the MRF announced that it would provide food relief to inundated areas and would work to prevent rice shortages.

Min Htet Aung, secretary of federation’s Mandalay Division branch, said the MRF had sent around 45 tons of rice to Arakan State on Monday, as the staple was in short supply and local prices had soared.

“We’ve donated many rice bags to Sagaing Division already,” he said. “Today, some have been sent to Arakan State, and soon we’ll send some up to Magwe.”

The rice will be distributed by the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs at a subsidized rate of 22,000 kyats per 50kg bag. According to reports from Sittwe, the same amounts were selling for $50-80 [60,000-96,000 kyats] over the weekend.

“We’ve heard that prices are increasing in some flooded areas,” Min Htet Aung told The Irrawaddy. “Even in Rangoon, bags have increased in cost by more than 2000 kyats. Now we’re controlling prices to prevent them from getting higher and sending rice to areas in need.”

He added that federation member traders had so far agreed to halt export plans and sell at regular prices to buyers in urgent need. Min Htet Aung said that the federation had stores of around 85,000 bags in Rangoon and 15,000 in Mandalay that could be directed towards relief efforts.

The MRF announced separately that farmers, millers and traders to have suffered from the flooding will be supported by the federation, and promised to provide seeds, fertilizers and equipment to those in need.