Narinjara News

Rangoon Seminar on Rice Sector Policy: How will this be implemented?

Rangoon, 6 Oct - The 'Seminar on the Rice Sector Policy: Neighbouring Countries Experiences' was jointly organized by the Burmese Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at a hotel in Rangoon on 3 October, according to the daily Myanmar Alin.

In the seminar Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation Maj-Gen Nyunt Tin said the government put into motion a new rice policy to boost the yield and trading of rice.  He also stressed that it is important to learn the rice sector policies and experiences of neighbouring countries.

Burma's ruling military rulers in April declared a new rice procurement policy aimed at, according to their notification, ' privatization of sale of rice.'  The new rice policy makes way for open sale of rice with minimum state control.  Previously the rice farmers were forced to take agricultural loans from the government banks and the loan was collected not with money but quotas of rice that proved to be heavy burdens on the rice growers.

In a bid to implement the new rice policy actions have been taken across Rakhine State in western Burma, to form five-member rice purchase committees in every village tract under the seventeen townships.  Though the military regime announced open transportation of rice, in Rakhine State no one is yet allowed to carry rice from one township to another without the permission of junta officials, Narinjara came to know by making investigations in a number of townships.

In August forty bags of rice were confiscated by the Burmese Army on the Maungdaw - Buthidaung motor road, close to Bangladesh border.  Since then no rice has been transported on the road.

A farmer in the area said to our correspondent, "We are in doubt about the new rice procurement policy of the regime, because there has been no sign of implementing what they said.  Again there are already five-member rice purchase committees formed in our village to whom we have been directed to sell rice. We don't know how the new policy will actually be implemented."

Last year the regime bought rice at kyat 30,000 for 250 bushels from the rice growers while the outside price was kyat 200,000, the farmer said.

The seminar was also addressed by Resident Representative of FAO Mr Tang Zhengping, Dr David Charles DAWE of IRPRC, Dr V Bruce J Tolentino of Vietnam and Mr Vichai Sriprasert of Thailand, and Mr Tang Shengyao of PRC who shared the rice sector policies and experiences of their respective countries.  #