According to the IFC, rice is Myanmar’s most important agricultural sector, accounting for 40% of gross agricultural output and 13% of overall gross domestic product. Myanmar exported more than 3 million tonnes of rice and broken rice, worth more than $1 billion to 57 countries, in 2017-18 financial year. This is the highest level of rice exported over the past 70 years.
Consequently, to further unlock the rice industry’s potential, in support of the Myanmar government’s continuing efforts, the IFC said it will assist MRF to improve the country’s current milled rice standards and paddy grading system. It will further promote adoption among the nation’s rice millers and exporters in order to transform the rice standards in a sustainable manner.
“We welcome this partnership with IFC,” said U Chit Khine, chairman of MRF. “It is particularly relevant in view of the National Export Strategy where rice has been identified as a key focus, coupled with MRF’s target to export 4 million tonnes of rice and broken rice by 2020-21.”
In April last year, as part of the IFC-hosted Myanmar Rice Network 2017, IFC and MRF, in partnership with the Rice Trader, conducted a deep dive session on Myanmar’s milled rice standards. The event reviewed the standards and discussed several perspectives — including those of international buyers and sector specialists. These deliberations underscored the need to adopt improved milled rice standards to effectively compete with other exporting countries, in view of Myanmar’s targeted increases in rice export. Consequential changes in a more transparent and improved paddy grading system also will support the improved milled rice standards and to ensure transmission of commensurate prices back to the farmers.
With those in mind, the IFC will help MRF establish a technical working group on milled rice standards. The group will review the existing milled rice standards of other countries and scan the global rice market requirements, particularly in the targeted markets for Myanmar rice. This will guide the development of improved milled rice standards and paddy categorization to meet the international buyers’ demand for quality rice.
“With its industry expertise, IFC is well-positioned to help Myanmar strengthen the country’s growing rice market and become a leading rice exporter in Asia, thus improving livelihoods of millions of farmers and contributing to the nation’s economic growth,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC country manager for Myanmar. “Besides working with MRF on rice standard improvement, we will support the country’s key stakeholders to boost rice production and quality. This will prepare the sector to respond to global market opportunities and better participate in the value chain.”