Paddy prices bounce back as November rains turn to sun
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