(By NJ Thakuria, 11 September 2014)
India is planning to import rice grain from neighbouring Burma (Myanmar) for the benefit of two far eastern States namely Nagaland and Mizoram. Both the provinces of northeast India are far from the mainland and adjacent to Burmese provinces Sagaing, Chin and Arakan.
The populous country may import 100,000 ton of rice from its southeast Asian neighbour through the Food Corporation of India. India’s Union minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution Mr Ram Vilas Paswan confirmed about New Delhi’s plan to get rice from Burma.
The minister, of course, declared that it was a temporary measure for India, which is a rice exporter nation, to get rice from its neighbor as there are some up-gradation works on Guwahati Silchar railway line. The analysts have however viewed this as a new development for India-Burma trade relationship.
According to a World Bank sponsored report, Burma has the ‘potential to more than double its rice exports by diversifying and increasing rice production, opening its rice milling sector to direct foreign
investments, and reducing export procedure costs’.
“Improving agricultural productivity and promoting rice exports are top priorities for the Burmese government. Despite its plan to export four million tons of rice by 2020, the actual annual rice export has reached only 1.3 million tons over the past years,” added the report.
The current rice export strategy favours the production of low quality rice, which is largely sold to Africa and China. Consequently, farmers have earned minimal profits and agribusinesses have skipped necessary investments. The situation is worsening as the global demand for low quality broken rice is shrinking, it also pointed out.