The Myanmar [Burma] Rice Federation will sell off 10,000 bags of rice reserves a day to combat the increase in prices after flooding destroyed about 600,000 acres of paddy across the country this summer.
“Rice prices in the country are currently rising – in some places, the wholesale price for a bag of low-quality rice is around 15,000 kyat [US$17.16] because people have been stocking up in fear of a shortage due to the news of the flooding,” said Dr Soe Tun, executive member of the MRF and a member of its Emergency Early Response Team.
“Since the country is heading towards a democratic system, one cannot go and tell [traders] to sell their rice at this or that price – all we can do is work to keep a balanced supply and demand and that is why we are selling the rice reserves.”
The MRF plans to begin selling the rice reserves in September.
The federation previously distributed 100,000 bags of rice through a tender system last month, but is switching to this new scheme.
Under the tender system, rice was sold to the highest bidder; however, rumours that an individual company was trying to buy up all the available reserves began to circulate and the plan was nixed.
Once the rice bowl of Asia, the country’s poor infrastructure and scarce credit has prevented farmers from increasing production of the staple and led the once prosperous sector to stagnate. This year’s heavy monsoon rains have put additional stress on the country’s farmers, who make up 70 percent of the country’s workforce.