Japan is helping to boost Myanmar’s quest to regain its status as a top rice exporter by importing long-grain rice from the former military ruled Southeast Asian country for the first time in 45 years. Even more importantly, companies like Mitsui are investing in rice production to ensure the longevity of the industry. Myanmar Rice Industry Association Chairman Chit Khaing said that Japan is very enthusiastic about investing in the country’s rice industry.
Chit Khaing is also the head of the Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation Ltd (MAPCO) which is entering a joint venture with trading house Mitsui. They will be building four processing plants to produce rice for exports and to manufacture food products and produce power as well. This will be set up as part of the Integrated Rice Complex Project, which aims to produce 400,000 tons of rice per year. They will be creating other food products out of the rice like rice bran oil and rice noodles. Rice hulls will power the four factories as well. MAPCO will also be entering into a joint venture with Mitsubishi to mill tropical japonica rice, which is currently being milled in China. That particular kind of rice is used in the thin rice cakes that are very popular in Japan.
Japan is also importing 5,000 tons of long-grain rice for the first time since 1968, even as Japan’s rice industry is the most protected in the world. The shipment was ordered by Mitsui, probably as part of their joint venture with MAPCO. Japan is currently the 11th largest investor in Myanmar but looks to be increasing these investments as they help Myanmar reintegrate itself in the world, two years after the end of the military rule. While the US and other Western countries imposed sanctions on the country because of its abusive military junta in 2003, Japan chose to retain bilateral relations with Myanmar so as not to further alienate them that would have driven them to closer relations with China.
[ via Asia Times ]
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