The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF), the government and the Ministry of Co-operatives are bidding to buy reserves of rice worth 14.5 billion kyat (US $17 million) by mid-November.
“The government will buy rice worth about 10 billion kyat, the Ministry of Co-operatives will buy one billion kyat’s worth, and the Myanmar Rice Federation will buy rice to the value of 3.5 billion kyat. This will make up the total rice reserves for the country,” said Dr. Soe Tun, the information official at MRF.
Formerly, the government bought up what was commonly called “rainy season rice” directly from farmers, then purchased “summer rice” [seasonal rice grown in dry season by irrigation] by tender system.
But the government complained that when it bought rice directly from the farmers there was much wastage because the townships did not have warehouses and the quality of rice was low.
“Now, we will buy the rice by tender,” said Soe Tun. “We will invite bids through the newspapers. To avoid someone monopolizing tenders, each bidder will be limited to a fixed number.”
Observers say the supply and demand of rice is currently well-balanced, and that rice mill owners and local rice traders are in a good position to purchase unpolished (brown) rice.
“The price of unpolished rice has increased because they are buying it,” said Ko Myo, a farmer in Phyapon Township in the Irrawaddy Region, speaking of the MRF-government initiative. “Therefore the market is active and most farmers are benefitting.”
A government-led committee for buying national reserves of rice was formed to control prices in Burma at times when the price might fluctuate in global and domestic rice markets. By doing so, observers say, the country can more effectively protect its rice exports.