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Rice exports could be banned till November

Farmers gather rice, a staple crop of the Irrawaddy Delta region. (Photo: DVB)

Burma, which has imposed a temporary ban on rice exports after heavy rains and floods hit the northern and western regions of the country, may not resume rice exports until November, local sources said, quoting an announcement by the Ministry of Commerce.

The ministry reportedly noted in the announcement that around one million acres (about 4,000 square kilometres) of paddy fields, accounting for about 10-15 percent of the total rice fields in the country, are damaged by the recent floods. It stated that therefore a need exists to safeguard rice stocks for domestic consumption. It added that Burma needs around 34.8 million tons of paddy rice for domestic consumption yearly.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, around 800-1,200 square kilometres of land has been rendered useless and require immediate attention and timely plantations.

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) announced last week that rice exports would be suspended until 15 September 2015, when harvested rice from the ongoing crop is expected to reach markets, in order to ensure sufficient stocks and control price hikes in the country. According to local media, Burma may consider rice imports as well in the coming months.

Burma is a net exporter of rice and its exports have been increasing consistently for the past few years. The country exported around 1.8 million tons of rice in 2014. The MRF 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.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Burma to produce 20 million tons of paddy rice (around 1.8 million tons, milled) and exports around 2.2 million tons of rice in 2015.

Read more about Burma’s flood crisis