Paddy prices bounce back as Novem­ber rains turn to sun

The Myanmar Times - - Business - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­

PADDY prices in Nay Pyi Taw are on the rise again, after hit­ting a sea­sonal low in the first week of Novem­ber.

Farm­ers and mill own­ers say re­newed de­mand has driven prices up, from an early-Novem­ber low of K350,000 for 100 bas­kets (about 2.05 tonnes) to around K500,000. Farm­ers at­trib­uted the in­ter­est partly to fair weather re­plac­ing heavy rain that had soaked har­vested paddy and low­ered the price.

“For the time be­ing prices are ris­ing with more de­mand due to stocks dry­ing,” said rice-mill owner Ko Nay Soe.

The gov­ern­ment has also an­nounced mea­sures de­signed to raise prices to lev­els that at least cover farm­ers’ production costs. The au­thor­i­ties an­nounced a scheme, which has yet to start, where farm­ers un­able to store their har­vest will hand it over paddy to traders and rice millers, who will only sell the paddy and trans­fer pay­ment when a price agree­able to the in­di­vid­ual farmer be­comes avail­able.

The gov­ern­ment also an­nounced plans to al­low paddy ex­ports with some lim­i­ta­tions, and at­tract po­ten­tial paddy buy­ers from abroad.

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion said ear­lier this month that a del­e­ga­tion from Brunei would visit Myan­mar in early De­cem­ber to dis­cuss buy­ing high­qual­ity rice and hy­brid paddy.

The gov­ern­ment is also pur­su­ing a rice ex­port agree­ment with In­done­sia and other re­gional coun­tries to rem­edy a re­liance on China. The re­cent slump in paddy prices was due in part to a drop in rice im­ports from China, the only sig­nif­i­cant des­ti­na­tion for Myan­mar rice ex­ports.

Ko Nay Soe said the gov­ern­ment’s col­lec­tive an­nounce­ments had helped the mar­ket for paddy, but only after the rains ended.

“While it was rain­ing, there was mois­ture and qual­ity [of the paddy] wasn’t good. So, there were no buy­ers and no mar­ket at all,” he said. “After that, the gov­ern­ment re­leased news that it would [try to] raise the price. The fair weather has re­turned and trad­ing cen­tres are [see­ing cus­tomers] come back and buy. That is why the price has gone up again,” he said.

Ko Myo Win, a farmer from the cap­i­tal’s Lewe town­ship, says prices are fairly good now, and enough to see farm­ers re­cover production costs.

Nay Pyi Taw farm­ers say it costs K200,000 to K250,000 for the har­row­ing, har­vest­ing, seeds and work­ers it takes to pro­duce 1 acre of paddy har­vest. Most farm­ers can pro­duce 70 bas­kets of paddy an acre, and say that vari­a­tions in qual­ity and yield mean the mar­ket price needs to be at least K500,000 in or­der to be con­fi­dent of prof­its.

“Now buy­ers are back and the price goes up,” said Ko Myo Win. “[The price] is now about K500,000 or more per 100 bas­kets de­pend­ing on qual­ity and paddy type.”

Some farm­ers are able to make a profit, but some are still struggling, said Ko San Htwe, a farmer with 5 acres of paddy. “It’s bet­ter if you can store [your paddy],” he said.

There are buy­ers that are still hold­ing off due to resid­ual mois­ture in the re­cent paddy crop, but Ko Myo Win said in­ter­est from lo­cal rice mills is grow­ing.

– Trans­la­tion by Zaw Nyunt

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