Low-quality watermelons and muskmelons have been flooding the Muse 105th mile trading zone, driving down demand from China, which has dropped compared to the corresponding period of last year, according to traders.
“The demand dropped in early and mid-November on account of the supply glut at Muse gate. The fruits are of low quality. The demand is expected to rise in end-November,” said Sai Khin Maung from the watermelon and muskmelon growers group.
Normally, watermelons and muskmelons see strong trade in December and January, ahead of the Chinese New Year Festival.
“Production of quality watermelons is required to maintain foreign market share. Trade of low-quality watermelons cannot even cover transportation costs,” according to the fruit depot.
In addition, the market depends on security along the trade channel. In December, 2018, the closure of Kyin San Kyawt gate as part of security measures left hundreds of trucks stranded at the Muse trade zone, battering all stakeholders in the supply chain.
“Watermelon prices are ranging from 3,000 to 20,000 Yuan per 15 tons, depending on quality. Muskmelons are priced 2,200-3,000 Yuan per ton,” according to the Khwar Nyo Trading Co. Ltd.
Watermelons and muskmelons top the list of fruits exported to China, and the export volume has been increasing significantly year over year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
“If growers follow GAP guidelines, they can get higher prices. But, a majority of them are still using pesticides,” said officials. Myanmar currently exports around 800,000 tons of watermelons per year.
The volume of watermelon exports was estimated at 500,000 tons in the 2014-2015 financial year, over 560,000 tons in the 2015-2016FY, and over 170,000 tons in the 2018 mini-budget period (from April to September).
Watermelons and muskmelons are primarily grown in Mandalay and Sagaing regions and Shan State. Myanmar’s watermelons and muskmelons have grabbed a large market share in China. — GNLM
(Translated by Ei Myat Mon)