Myanmar wants to sell rice to Pakistan under a government-to-government system. Myanmar has been eyeing Pakistan as potential target for rice exports as part of its effort to boost the number of rice export markets. The announcement comes as the government said it would drop the proposed paddy purchase scheme which was meant to cover production costs for Myanmar’s struggling rice farmers. Falling rice exports to China, a result of a clampdown on illegal cross-border rice exports from Myanmar, caused the price of paddy to tumble and prompted government intervention. With about 80 percent of Myanmar’s rice exports going to China, the sector is extremely vulnerable to changes in demand from its neighbour. An official from the Myanmar’s ministry of commerce has said that the recent recovery in the market price for paddy, due to lower production, has prompted the government to abandon K15 billion purchase programs.
Despite lacking widespread mechanization and advanced technology, Myanmar’s agricultural sector competes with regional rice producing powerhouses such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Pakistan. The proposed sale of rice to Pakistan come as part of recent measures to limit the sector’s reliance on demand from China, including the signing of a MoU with Indonesia last October to increase Myanmar’s yearly rice exports to 300,000 MT. During the one week period in December, Myanmar’s rice exports to China through border trade reached 34,126 MT, which was 8,826 MT more than that of the previous week. Apart from this, Myanmar also exports rice to Singapore, Europe, Africa, Russia and Brazil, exporting a total of 767,753 MT of rice last fiscal year.