YANGON, NNA – Japan’s Oshima Agricultural Machinery MFG. Co. will begin producing rice-drying machines as early as March in Myanmar, one of the world’s major rice producers.
Its first overseas factory, located in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone on the outskirts of Yangon, has an annual output capacity of 100 units and aims to sell 10 machines in the first year, Chairman Nobuhiko Oshima told NNA on Thursday.
The company is tapping business opportunities in Southeast Asia’s emerging economies as it faces a shrinking domestic market as the number of farmers and overall population decline in Japan.
The rice-drying process prior to milling in Myanmar is labor-intensive as farmers leave rice on vinyl sheets on the ground to expose it to sunlight.
Oshima, based in Niigata Prefecture, a major rice-producing region in northeastern Japan, will sell a machine capable of processing 15 tons per cycle, more than the domestic model’s 10 tons, with a suggested $35,000 price tag via a local agent to rice-milling firms.
Myanmar is ranked seventh globally in rice production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, but it lags behind other major rice-growing neighbors such as Thailand and Vietnam in the mechanization of the production process.
In Myanmar, the amount of rice cultivation is much greater during the rainy season in its cycle of double cropping, but rain often hampers outdoor drying and can cause a deterioration in rice quality during storage.
Oshima established its local unity Oshimanoki Myanmar Co. in 2017, with a $5.4 million investment. The plant employs about 20 workers and has a floor space of 3,600 square meters, according to the chairman who doubles as managing director of the local arm.