A hybrid rice field trial in Myanmar has yielded 150 metric tons of seed per hectare over 100 hectares in Yangon’s Dagon township, proving Myanmar can be a viable production site for the Philippines’ rice and rice seed exports to foreign markets.
SL Agritech Corp. successfully led a pioneering trial of hybrid rice seed SL-8H, branded “ Shwe Lar-SL-8H” in Myanmar, in the last planting season.
Also planted were commercial table grade rice SL-7H (Dona Maria Jasponica) on 11 hectares, SL-9H (Miponica) on 28 hectares and SL-8H on 20 hectares.
“We can export our Doña Maria Jasponica and Miponica rice from Myanmar. Consumers in Myanmar may not want soft and sticky rice, but that’s our opportunity to export rice harvested from there,” said SLAC chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.
The Philippines has limited flat land for rice, compared with Myanmar which has around 17 million hectares of uncultivated land that can be planted to rice.
Myanmar used to be world’s biggest rice exporter prior to World War II when it was under British rule.
Another advantage in exporting rice from Myanmar is the preferential zero tariff for European destinations.
Other potential export destinations for Doña Maria rice from Myanmar are China and the United States.
Liong said the Filipino brand name Doña Maria premium rice should be retained as a brand name When exported for consistency in the world market.
Agricultural soil in Myanmar is fertile because it is only now that farm lands in Myanmar are being tapped,.
The pilot planting in Myanmar was under a joint venture with private companies Nine Seas led by Aung Tan Oo and Water Stone led by Filipino businessman Norberto Ong.
The expansion of hybrid rice planting in Myanmar will likely be supported by microfinance function of Philippines’ microfinance leader CARD under CARD Myanmar Company Ltd. CARD started operating in Myanmar in light of the trade and agriculture developments there.
SLAC and its partners have started the process of establishing partnership with local government units, the Ministry of Agriculture and the International Rice Research Institute in training farmers and widen ing technology demonstrations in major rice producing areas.
SLAC will continue to recommend support for hybrid rice from the Myanmar government.
“If the farmers are not trained, they will not buy the seed. We also have to seek partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture for policy support,” Liong said.