Myanmar Agribusiness Public Company (MAPCO) has purchased 10 parboiled rice processing machines from India and sold them to local millers through an installment plan in a bid to increase parboiled rice exports.
According to the MRF, once all of the new machines come online, the country will have 20 functioning parboiled rice processing plants. Currently, one of the new plants is fully operational and another three are 95 percent complete, the remainder is expected to come online by early 2015.
In addition to constructing the new machinery, millers are building local infrastructure and warehouses to increase distribution channels for both export and eventually, domestic consumption.
Low production capacity has forced the industry to focus on the export of the product, which ignores domestic market potential. Once the new plants are operational in 2015, the industry will pursue a more comprehensive strategy that includes domestic distribution, said U Thaung Win, joint secretary of MRF.
“Our country is accustomed to eating regular white rice, so we need to work to raise awareness in order to inform the public of the benefits of eating parboiled rice. A committee will be formed to conduct research on how best to implement a public awareness campaign,” he said.
“Parboiled rice is very low in fat and has many health benefits. White rice is three percent fat and the ‘Ae-ma-hta’ rice variety contains two percent fat, while parboiled rice only contains 0.2 percent fat. It is popular worldwide as a low-fat rice variety so we have to adapt to international standards in order to penetrate the global market,” said U Ye Ming Aung, general secretary of the MRF.
Without investment in the parboiled rice industry, and the agriculture sector in general, Myanmar is not capable of meeting market demand – domestically or internationally – and continues to miss out on export opportunity.
The 20 parboiled rice processing plants – located in Mawlamyine, PhyarPonel, NgaPu Taw, Yaykyi, Bogalay, KangyiHtaung and Naypyitaw – have a combined capacity to produce 1,500 tonnes of parboiled rice per day, which limits the export potential of the product.
With global demand for parboiled rice amounting to 30 million tonnes, both Vietnam and Thailand have seized the opportunity with over 70 percent of their rice exports accounting for parboiled rice, said Dr Soe Tun, joint secretary general from the MRF.
Boosting parboiled rice production can prevent waste by improving the efficiency of conventional post-harvest processing, like the paddy drying process, and also contribute to the development of Myanmar’s agriculture sector, Dr Myo Aung Kyaw, a member of the management committee of the MRF, said.