Myanmar Times (13/05/2020) - Myanmar will add 12,000 tonnes of palm oil to its food reserves in the event of an emergency during the COVID-19 outbreak, said U Than Myint, Minister of Commerce.
As the country does not have storage tanks, Myanmar will use jerrycans to store the oil, U Than Myint said via video conference on May 12.
This is part of the government’s plan to have sufficient oil reserves during the COVID-19 crisis and traders have also agreed to keep 12,000 tonnes of palm oil as reserves, said U Myint Kyu, chair of the Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers Association.
The traders also volunteered to reduce the price without considering profit, he said.
The purchased palm oil will be distributed to regions and states in accordance with the Central Committee for the Prevention, Control and Treatment of the coronavirus disease.
“Our country’s domestic consumption of palm oil is about 1 million tonnes. But production for the domestic market is just about 400,000 tonnes as we also need to produce peanut and sesame oil. We import palm oil worth $600 and sunflower oil and soybean oil worth $800-$900 per tonne by selling peanut and sesame oils,” said U Myint Kyu.
From exporting expensive peanut and sesame, the country imports cheap palm oil for domestic consumption. Myanmar imports around 700,000 tonnes of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia.
However, COVID-19 has shown that the country also needs to grow local edible oil crops in sufficient quantities for food security purposes, he said.
“We don’t need to worry about rice because it is produced locally. Oil needs to be imported. If their ports, plantations and oil tanks are locked down, we may face shortages for domestic consumption. In such times, we should have enough to sustain ourselves before selling to other countries,” he said.
The Ministry of Commerce first announced in an April 22 statement that it will buy and stockpile 50,000 tonnes of rice and 12,000 tonnes of palm oil as reserve food for emergencies. It also added that the ministry will purchase the items at a reasonable price. - Translated
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