Prospects for Myanmar Pulses
By Shyam Narsaria CEO, Arvee International Pte Ltd.
Pulses in Myanmar are normally grown immediately after the harvest of the main rice paddy crop in the delta region. They are also grown as the monsoon crops in the central plains.
Monsoon paddy harvesting, threshing, and subsequent land preparation are thus a crucial labour bottleneck affecting the amount of residual moisture available to the pulse crop.
Soil type also plays into this equation, with heavier soils taking longer to drain before planting of pulses is possible but then subject to the risk of drying out and cracking before grain formation.
Land allocation between the two main pulses, black gram/Urad and green gram/moong, depends on farmers’ perceptions of profitability, relative prices and risk preferences. Black gram is seen as the more robust crop, less susceptible to moisture stress and especially to insect damage. Green gram is perceived as more vulnerable and therefore needing careful, regular insect pest management. But green gram prices are higher than black gram, and the crop is seen as potentially more profitable for farmers who can supply working capital for inputs and manage the risk.
About 70 percent of all pulses are grown during the winter season with yields ranging between 0.7 -1.3 metric tons per hectare.
Myanmar is the leading country in pulses production among ASEAN nations, most of the pulses grown in Myanmar is for export. The total export of Myanmar Pulses for 2016 is USD One Billion.
The average export of Pulses from Myanmar is 1.2 million MT via ocean transportation and 2.0 million MT through the land borders (mainly to China). Almost 80 percent of the export via ocean transport is to India.
The Indian market demand/supply plays a pivotal role in Myanmar Pulses production, pricing and export.
In 2017 the pulses production in Myanmar is around 1.5 million MT comprising of major items namely Urad, Toor, Moong and Chana.
Black Gram/Urad: The current price is around USD 630 FOB Yangon which is last three year’s bottom level. Strong buying interest may come at these levels depending on Indian sowing data and impact of Monsoon.
Pigeon Peas/Toor: The current price is around USD 470 FOB Yangon which is last five year’s lowest level. Indian buyers are cautious in buying, keeping in mind Indian bumper production and expected African crop in August.
Green Gram/Moong: The current market price is around USD 1100 FOB Yangon because of strong buying from China. Chickpeas/Chana: The current market Price for Chickpeas is around USD 1050 FOB Yangon.
Pulses production depends on the international prices at the time of sowing, as farmers may shift towards substitute crops which generate better returns. The current prices will have negative impact on sowing of Toor and Urad. Growers may opt for sugarcane and cotton instead of Toor, groundnut and sesame instead of urad. We can expect good sowing in Moong and Chickpeas.