Prepared Foods June 6, 2005 enewsletter

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will help Myanmar build two edible oil mills worth $5 million as part of its aid to the country, according to the local 7-Day News journal.

The projects, which also involve the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), will be implemented in the capital city of Yangon and the second largest city of Mandalay, the FAO resident representative was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, OPEC is at present implementing a $10 million project to help Myanmar upgrade its oil crops production for self-sufficiency.

The five-year project, which is the biggest of its kind since 1988, would assist farmers in 36 main oil seed growing areas and deal mainly with the development of oil palm and four oil seed crops, including sesame, groundnut, sunflower and soybean.

Myanmar obtained OPEC's international development fund in May 2003, which was provided at an annual interest rate of 1% payable in 25 years.

OPEC had previously provided Myanmar with loans for agriculture, telecommunications, energy, transport and water supply improvement networks.

According to official statistics, Myanmar produces some 250,000 tons of edible oil annually and imports the same amount of it to meet its local demand. Its cultivated areas of oil crops have reached 2.8 million hectares.

The country has been making efforts to turn southern Tanintharyi division into an oil bowl. Companies from Malaysia and Thailand are also making a feasibility study for investment in oil palm cultivation in Myanmar.