YANGON, Dec 23 (Bernama) -- Myanmar has been endeavouring to expand its international rice market in a bid to increase rice export to more other countries especially those of the European Union (EU), reported China's Xinhua news agency.
The export of Myanmar's high-grade Ziya rice to Europe came after coordinations were made between Myanmar and EU rice producers at the World Rice Conference held in the Philippines in October this year.
As its market expansion, Myanmar has also planned export of good-quality rice to Kuwait, Middle East and African countries.
The country also attended the Middle East-Africa-Asia Rice/ Grain Global Summit in Dubai earlier in June.
The summit was held during which rice and grain producers, traders and experts discussed investment opportunities and challenges facing the rice and grain sectors and strengthen information exchange and partnership to harness the potential of agricultural food investments and production.
Myanmar enjoyed yearly rice surplus of 5 million tonnes, Xinhua said.
According to official statistics, the country generated about 30 million tonnes of rice out of 8.26 million hectares of paddy cultivated in the last fiscal year 2008 to 2009 which ended in March.
The growing paddy output had raised the export of rice of Myanmar, setting a new record high of the export in 2008 to 2009 with over 700,000 tonnes compared with 100,000 tonnes six years ago.
The 2008-09 rice export earned about US$200 million.
There are so far 35 private companies in the country undertaking the export of rice to South Africa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirate, South Korea and Egypt.
Meanwhile, the export of rice stopped for five months due to cyclone Nargis which occurred in May last year but such export resumed since October last year with up to 100,000 tonnes monthly.
The cyclone destroyed about 900,000 hectares of farmland which accounted for 24 percent of the country's total cultivated area from where 1.35 million tonnes of paddy could be produced, Xinhua cited the statistics as saying.
Myanmar has set a new target for producing 40 million tonnes of paddy annually over the next few years, saying that the move is not only for self sufficiency but also for surplus in food, according to the government's Special Projects Implementation Committee.
Agriculture represents the mainstay of Myanmar's economy with over 70 percent of the country's 57.37-million population being engaged in the sector and contributing 40 percent to its gross domestic product.
Myanmar targeted to generate 32 million tonnes of rice in 2009-10 ending March, of which 1.5 million tonnes of rice are to be exported.
The country's per capita rice consumption stands 510 kg per year which are for rural people, while 408 kg for urban people. The annual consumption of rice by the entire country people reached over 17 million tonnes, statistics revealed.
Meanwhile, Myanmar is endeavoring to extend its contract farming system to three more divisions with cultivation area in extra -- Sagaing, Ayeyawaddy and Bago in addition to Yangon's where such project is underway.
Standing as the second main crop after rice, Myanmar's beans and pulses also fetched large amount of foreign exchange for the country.
According to the statistics, it exported over 1.5 million tonnes of beans and pulses in 2008-09, up 15.3 percent from 2007-08 when it registered 1.3 million tons, earning US$806 million from the export out of 4.25 million hectares cultivated.
Myanmar stands the second largest beans exporter in the world after Canada with 70 percent of the crop being shipped to India.