Rice prices rise in Yangon as COVID-19 restrictions squeeze supply

The volume of rice available for trade has fallen substantially since March, when COVID-19 first broke out in Myanmar, said U Than Oo, secretary of the
Bayint Naung Wholesale Center.

“Rice produced for domestic consumption and exports have declined. Yangon has not been receiving the same amount of volumes for exports like before,” he said.

The lack of volume is due to COVID-19 restrictions on interstate travel, which has disrupted the movement of cargoes between the states and regions. As such, the
volume of rice sent to the Bayint Naung Wholesale Center in Yangon has fallen.

There are typically about 200 rice trucks moving to and from Bayint Naung Wholesale Center per day. The number has since fallen to 20 a day. As such, prices of Paw San, Shwebo, Myaung Mya and Phya Pone rice has increased by more than K4000 per bag, while the export rice price has risen to K23,000 per bag.

“Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, rice merchants cannot hire vehicles to move the rice to the Yangon ports for exports. The drivers must have health certificates,
recommendation letters or other documents so many are now avoiding Yangon. Rice sales are now being conducted in the countryside instead,” said a rice trader.
Traders are now also distributing rice to prison departments and the military, U Than Oo said.

The government is now distributing reserve rice to wholesalers and retailers in Yangon. It had earlier this year purchased around 840,000 bags of rice to shore up
reserves in case of emergencies during COVID-19. Currently, some of these stocks are being distributed to retailers in Yangon, said U Khin Maung Lwin, deputy
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“An announcement has already been made that reserve rice will be sold to local wholesalers and retailers as well as exporters. In the past, we had to get the stocks directly from the government warehouses but now we are negotiating the logistics to transport the rice to the point of sale,” said Myanmar Rice Federation Central Executive Committee member U Soe Tun.

The rice is currently being sold at the Wathan and Bayintnaug rice brokerage houses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The government has purchased 50,000 tonnes, or 10pc of the rice earmarked for exports as reserves. This can be sold to the public at fixed prices. Other varieties of rice like Shwe Bo Paw San and Ayeyarwady Paw San will also be made available for sale at the market price. Since COVID-19, the government has also purchased 12,000 tonnes of edible palm oil to shore up its food reserves. It has spent K38 billion in total so far on the rations.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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