The lack of fresh elephant foot yam in Mon State led to the closure of the elephant foot yam processing factories, a factory stated.
All the yams are out of stock in Mon State. The yams are harvested between August and mid-December. Moreover, the processors cannot purchase the raw materials from other areas owing to the transaction problem amid the closure of private banks.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the price of fresh yams reached the maximum of K2,300 per viss (a viss equals 1.6 kg). This year, it fell to K1,700 per viss in early January.
There are currently about ten factories for drying elephant foot yams in Myanmar. Myanmar’s elephant foot yams are primarily purchased by China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Japan offers higher prices than China for the yams.
“Japan and China produce them by adding value to snacks, noodles and medicines, etc. It is low-fat food and has many health benefits. There is valued-added production of elephant foot yam in Myanmar as well. However, the yams are not that popular in the country as local people do not know the health benefits of elephant foot yams,” U Nyi Nyo Lwin, a factory owner elaborated.
Elephant foot yam production has become a lucrative business. Therefore, value-adding technology is crucial for boosting elephant foot yam production and expanding its market, according to the Myanmar Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association.
According to the association, Myanmar is mostly exporting only raw yam, and value-added products made from yam will help the market grow in the long term. Myanmar is only producing semi-processed yam at present.
Elephant foot yams are the main product of Chin State, where they are cultivated on over 8,800 acres of land. The Kanpetlet, Mindat, and Matupi townships produce about 1 million visses (a viss is equal to 1.6 kg) of elephant foot yams. Elephant foot yams can be planted across the country. In addition to Chin State, yams are being grown in Kayin, Mon, and Shan states, and Taninthayi and Bago regions.
Yams produced in Chin State are getting a higher price than those from other regions as they have better quality and taste, said the traders.
Myanmar exported 4,200 tonnes of elephant foot yams in the 2014-2015 financial year, 1,300 tonnes in the 2015-2016FY, and 20,000 tonnes in the 2016-2017FY, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.—KK/GNLM