Crisis-hit Manipur to import rice from Myanmar
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Agency

Guwahati, June 09 2010: To overcome the food crisis due to the economic blockade called by various Naga groups, the Manipur Government will import 1000 MT of rice from Myanmar.

Manipur Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) which is engaged in promotion of small-scale industries and border trade, has been asked by the State Government to import the rice.

"We have submitted a proposal to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and we are waiting for its green signal," highly-placed sources told this correspondent today.

They further added that last year drought had severely affected rice production in the State and therefore the Government decided to import rice from Myanmar to meet the daily demand.

An indefinite economic blockade enforced by various Naga tribal groups to protest the Manipur government's decision not to allow separatist leader T Muivah to visit his birthplace has literally brought the state to a halt.

According to available statistics, Manipur produces nearly 5.18 lakh MT rice annually against the demand 6.21 lakh MT.

But last year the State produced only 2.50 lakh MT.

To speed up the process of rice import, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between North East Federation of International Trade (NEFIT) and Union of Myanmar Border Trade Chamber of Commerce, Tamu and Kaley at a meeting in Manipur recently.

Providing feedback on the MoU, M Chandra Kishore Singh, vice president of NEFIT informed that Myanmar Government was keen on expanding trade ties with the North-east.

"U San New Win, Director of Myanmar Border Trade who was present at the meeting laid emphasis on increasing bilateral trade by way of involving traders of both the nations," he said.

It may be recalled that the Commerce Ministry has already granted permission to the Manipur Government to import 50,000 MT of rice from Myanmar annually.

Myanmar is said to be the rice bowl in Asia and its three varieties-ayemin, sanshei and pasan are very popular in Manipur.

Singh informed that Indo-Myanmar border trade was still in the nascent state due to poor participation of the North East traders.

"Though Myanmar is a big market for the North East traders, we are yet to reap the benefit.

To create awareness among the traders, we are going to organise meets across the region soon," he said.