Description: A farmer applies pesticide to his paddy field. Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times
A farmer applies pesticide to his paddy field. Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times
Vice President Henry Van Thio underscored the need for Myanmar farmers to improve the quality and price of rice to make it more globally competitive.
The vice president, who is also head of the Protection of Farmer Rights and Enhancement of their Benefits Group, said at the annual meeting of the Myanmar Rice Federation that the country earns K5 trillion (US$3.2 billion) annually from its rice, including K2 trillion from exports. 
He urged farmers at the meeting over the weekend at the Myanmar Convention Centre in Mandalay city that they have to maintain, if not improve, the quality of rice the country produces.
U Aung Thu, minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said, “To compete in the international market with both quality and price, we have drawn up and issued good agricultural practices as well as announced organic standards last month.”
U Aung Thu said that it regularly updates its standards to keep up with the demands of the international market.  
Myanmar produced more than 9 billion tonnes of rice in fiscal 2017-2018 and exported 3.85 million tonnes, worth about US$1.1 billion, the highest amount in 73 years. 
Rice exports for 2020 are expected to reach over 4 million tonnes, according to U Chit Khine, chair of the federation.  
U Henry Van Thio said the government will continue to negotiate for the best price for Myanmar rice. 
“The government will discuss with higher-ups and participants from foreign countries that buy rice, and will try to get a higher quota through government-to-government contacts,” he said.
The vice president said that among the key strategies of the government to boost rice production is to encourage more contract farming, implement simple and easy policies, and improve the foreign investment climate, among others.