Thursday, December 13, 2012

Burma’s first imports of wheat flour arrive

Thursday, 13 December 2012 00:00 Khin Myo Thwe

The first delivery of imported wheat flour—some six tonnes of it—arrived in Burma during the first week of December.

The Ministry of Commerce had announced in September that it would allow wheat flour to be imported for the first time in about 20 years.

If necessary: Burma has begun to import wheat flour from India. Photo: David Monniaux / Wikipedia

A spokesperson for the Border Trade Department said that a meeting had been held several months ago between the Chief Minister of Sagaing Division, the Chairman of Tamu Merchants Association and the representative of a wheat seed importing company in Burma’s capital, Naypyitaw, at which the opinion was aired that consumers in Sagaing Division faced great difficulties in buying flour. It was requested that they be able to import wheat flour legally from India.

“The wheat seed importer also confirmed he would import some flour, so it was agreed,” he said.

Imports of wheat seeds began three months ago, but the first delivery of wheat flour—some six metric tonnes—arrived earlier in December.

Only a few domestic companies engage in Burma’s wheat market—and much of the country’s food production industry depends on them.

“The flour should be allowed as an import not only in Sagaing Division but across the country,” said Khin Myint, general manager of a cake factory. “It’s been around 20 years since this business was opened. If the wheat flour importing business is allowed the same opportunities as the palm oil importing business, then there will soon be market competition, and consumers will get the best prices. The quality will be improved too.”

“In Myanmar, it is significantly more cost-effective to import wheat than to cultivate it inside the country,” said agriculture expert Hla Myint.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Burma consumed 400,000 metric tonnes of wheat in 2012, more than three times its annual consumption in 1992.

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