Myanmar confident of sufficient rice, edible oil supplies

Demand for rice is rising in Myanmar as locals stock up on the commodity. Traders and wholesalers said the panic buying – spurred by the declaration of a state of emergency – has led to price hikes. They added that rice exports are currently suspended but assured the public that, at present, there is no shortage of rice in the country.

“The rice market is very active right now because of impulse buying as people are anxious. The prices of rice have gone up but there are still shops selling it at regular prices. We have enough stocks of rice,” said Secretary of the Myanmar Rice & Paddy Traders Association (MRPTA) U Aung Myint.

He anticipates though, that demand will fall quickly in the coming months. “Rice can be stored for a long time. Transactions will decline in the next few months (as people have already stocked up on rice). The Myanmar Rice & Paddy Traders Association requests traders and rice millers to not inflate the price”, said U Aung Myint.
“We cannot inhibit the purchasing behaviors of the population. Some buy enough rice to last for a month while others buy enough for a week”, he continued.

Prices for the popular Paw Hasan Hmwe rice have increased by up to K5,000 a bag while the cost of other rice brands of different qualities has increased by approximately K2,000. Meanwhile, Myanmar has also put in the necessary preparations to ensure that there will be no shortage of edible oils in the country. The Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers Association assured the public that there will be a continuous supply of edible oil in light of the current political unrest.

Approximately 50,000 tonnes of edible oil will be arriving from January 29 to February 10 and there are currently no shortages in edible oil, said U Paing Phyo Thant, the association’s secretary. A majority of Myanmar’s edible oil is imported from Malaysia and Indonesia. U Paying Phyo Thant said the association had used the state budget to purchase 12,000 tonnes of the commodity when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck. These were then distributed to the states and regions accordingly.

The political unrest which unfolded on February 1, however, did result in an increase in prices. Members of the public were seen stocking up on necessities following the military detainment of the country’s president, U Win Myint, and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, along with other senior figures from the ruling party in response to alleged poll fraud by the Union Election Commission.

“People were buying food products in bulk yesterday morning. We have requested companies to continue selling the oils with adjusted prices. We also opened the oil tanks and restocked to ensure there is continued supply,” said U Paing Phyo Thant. “We cannot predict if the prices will continue to rise because it depends on the foreign market. If the prices increase in the foreign market then it will also increase domestically. But we plan to keep selling the oils at a justified price while maintaining control of the situation,” he said.

Prices of other commodities are also on the rise. The price of the onions grown in Myitthar has increased by K150 per viss. Lower-grade onions are K150 to K200 more expensive as well. Another reason for the increase in prices of these agricultural products is due to lower supply.

Recently, Yangon only receives on average 25 vegetable trucks a day, said chair of the Bayintnaung Wholesale Center U Khin Han. – Translated

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Source: Myanmar Times

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