Myanmar Rice Federation assures of sufficient supplies

The rice industry body in Myanmar has reassured the public that there will be sufficient rice for domestic consumption and prices will be controlled amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) released a statement on Friday that it would try to have a sufficient and stable supply of rice for the local market as people started panic-buying after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic last Thursday.

The following day, the President’s Office announced that all public festivals and activities including Thingyan pandals and other events involving crowds shall not take place starting March 13 until April 30, cancelling public celebrations over the Myanmar new year.

The rice federation statement said that it has been in coordination with various government departments, rice traders, millers, distributors, wholesalers and exporters for the stability of the local market with priority made for sufficiency.

“We released the statement so that the public can avoid unnecessary worries. The government currently has 1.7 million baskets of reserve rice,which were bought from the farmers with its budget. In addition, there is a lot of rice in private hands including exporters, rice merchants and millers,” MRF secretary U Nay Lin Zin told The Myanmar times.

“Now, summer paddy is growing. By the end of March, a huge amount of summer rice will enter the market. So, we’ll have more than enough. There is nothing to be worried about.”

If there is a possibility that the price of rice will increase among the retail shops, the reserved rice from the government and the rice of exporters, rice merchants and miller will be sold as a way of controlling the price, he explained.

“We have made arrangements for this case. If it is needed, the government will sell their reserve rice for the people,” he said.

“Myanmar has sufficient rice stocks to meet local demand and more! This was confirmed by the Rice Association in Yangon yesterday. The association said the staple would be distributed by local affiliates in wards and industrial zones at wholesale prices,” U Thaung Tun, minister for investment and foreign economic relations and Myanmar Investment Commission chair wrote on his Twitter. The minister also told the public to rest assured.

The MRF said that it is reviewing the daily situation regarding the impact on local and foreign markets after the COVID-19 is designated as a pandemic. It will cooperate with the business people of private sectors, millers and organisations for a stable market and food security in the country. The MRF will also give suggestions to the government to manage exports systematically by coordinating with the exporters. 

The economic impact of the pandemic is already being felt in Myanmar, as the number of tourist arrivals have dropped sharply. Agricultural exports to China have been hit by border closures and lower exports due to travel restrictions imposed as part of attempts to curb the spread of the virus.

In the garment industry, a significant source of employment in Myanmar, factories have been hit a shortage of raw materials due to supply-chain disruptions caused by the Chinese government asking factories to temporarily shut down to prevent the virus from spreading among workers.

There have already been reports of factory closures in Myanmar due to the disruptions. – Translated