Narinjara News



Phenomenal Rice Price Rise in Western Burma Threatens Social Unrest

The price of rice in western Burma has jumped phenomenally within the last two or three days, and community leaders worry that it could lead to social unrest in the region.

A retired school teacher with social standing in the community has told us that “commodity prices are shooting up; especially rice. It is the main staple food for Arakanese here. One Pray (about 2 kilogram) of poor quality rice costs 800 kyats in
Maung Daw Township. Good quality rice is 1250 kyats. This price rise is a great strain on the daily budget of the people. In many parts of the region, there are many families who won't be able to afford to cook rice everyday.”

In Maung Daw, a 50-kilogram bag of poor quality rice price is about 20,000 kyats, while the good quality rice is about 30,000.

In nearby
Buthidaung Township, the poor quality rice is 22,500 while the good quality 25,000 kyats.

Due to the availability of poor quality rice that has been smuggled from
Bangladesh into Maung Daw, the price there is lower than in Buthidaung, according to border sources.

“Such a price rise has never been seen. It is hard going for the public servants. A bag of rice costs about two to three times our monthly salary. It is a very difficult time”, says a public servant from Buthidaung.

The rice price is related to the Burmese government's policies, said residents in the border areas.

In Arakan state, the local authority does not allow the transport of rice from one place to another, especially in the northern townships of the state. Hence, there are huge price differences within the region.

In other parts of Arakan, such as Akyab, Ponna Kyaun, and Mrauk U, the poor quality rice is about 500 kyats a pyay.

If the same ban on rice transport continues and the rice price keeps going up during this rice cultivating monsoon season, a famine and some severe social unrest could occur in the region. These problems could also lead to another exodus of refugees into
Bangladesh, said those with a political interest in Arakan State.