Myanmar rubber is not good enough to export, even as growers complain that the price of $300-400 per tonne is unfairly low, according to U Khaing Myint, secretary of Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers’ Association.
Because of growing demand in the global rubber commodity market, rubber can be sold at standardised prices, but these can be exceptionally low for Myanmar rubber.
“The rubber produced in this country has been very poor for quite some time. This is why we cannot achieve a high price. Some growers complain that Chinese buyers ask too low a price for rubber, but these are simply market conditions. It is a problem of quality,” U Khaing Myint said.
The rubber plantations in Myanmar still do not achieve consistent production, partially because seeds are not tested and grown systematically.
According to the association, the farms which unintentionally planted the seeds with low yields got low prices and were not able to recoup their costs, pushing many farms out of business. These losses have occurred because of poor quality control.
“We encountered so many losses because you can’t get global trading prices without having proper quality control,” U Khaing Myint said. “If the exports quality can be guaranteed to be RSS3, the price will be the same as the global trade price for this quality.”
Among sheet rubbers produced and marketed in the international market Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS) is the most widely used. RSS can be divided into six categories based on mould condition, RSS1 Extra (RSS1 X) being of the topmost quality, followed by RSS1 and 2. However, RSS3 accounts for more than 80 percent of all RSS production.
Myanmar aims to export rubber of RSS3 quality, but according to the association the actual rubber produced can be compared to the lowest grade, RSS5.
As communication technology flourishes Myanmar, small business owners can access global rubber prices at any time.
Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam account for more than 82 percent of the world’s rubber, while Myanmar accounts for about 1 percent.