Transport difficulties cause watermelon growers to suspend harvesting

The watermelon growers are notified of five-day suspension to harvest the watermelons, as there are difficulties in freight transport from Muse border to Wanding yard, said Chairman U Soe Lwin of Watermelon and Muskmelon Producers and Exporters Association.
“The transport delay can cause damage to watermelons. The truck drivers are asked to take special care to maintain fruit quality. It takes about 4 days to reach Wanding yard from Muse gate, resulting in damages to the fruits. Therefore, the growers are asked to wait for five days to harvest the fruits,” he added.
At present, about 2,000 trucks of watermelons and muskmelons are queuing on Muse-Kyin San Kyawt route to export them to China. Only 300 of them are daily crossing the border between Myanmar and China.
“Between 8 and 11 April, China allowed only the designated driver, who substitute the original driver, to enter the Kyin San Kyawt checkpoint. On 12 April, trading has returned to normal and the original drivers can directly go to the border,” he noted.
The transport delay doubled the truck fare for the route from watermelon main producer — ChaungU Township, Monya District, Sagaing Region to China’s border with northern Shan State.

Trucks seen at the 105-mile trade zone in Muse, northern Shan State. Photo:Myo Win Tun/ Htet Myat
Trucks seen at the 105-mile trade zone in Muse, northern Shan State. Photo:Myo Win Tun/ Htet Myat

“Earlier, truck fare cost about K1.2 million. It hiked up to K2.5 million amid Covid-19 impacts. The growers are facing many challenges this year. Some lead to fruit losses”, said Ko Aung Ngwe San, a grower from ChaungU Township.
As Chinese traders do not come to Muse 105th mile border in the light of Covid-19 fears, prompting Myanmar traders leaving for Wanding to sell watermelons and muskmelons, said Vice Chair U Aung Thet Oo of Muse Fruit Depot.
China has been stepping up border control measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19. Starting from 1 April, travellers are prohibited at the borders between China and Myanmar — Mant Wain, Sin Phyu, Nan Taw, Kyin San Kyawt, Pun Sai-Kyu Koat, Manhero checkpoints. However, only trucks are allowed for trading at the Mant Wain, Kyin San Kyawt and Pun Sai-Kyu Koat crossings.
“Normally, trading is conducted at Muse border. The Covid-19 conditions blocked the Chinese traders to come. Therefore, local traders come out of the country and sell the watermelons in the Wanding area”, said U Aung Thet Oo.
“While selling the watermelons in the Wanding area, the traders are facing certain difficulties in transportation and accommodation, coupled with market instability,” he added.
Regarding those problems, the authorities from two sides are negotiation the reports submitted by the traders, according to Muse fruit depot.
At the present time, a 16-tonne truck of watermelon is priced 15,000-40,000 depending on fruit quality and varieties, whereas muskmelon fetches 3-6 Yuan per kilogram.
Myanmar has opened four Sino-Myanmar borders; Muse and Chinshwehaw checkpoints in Shan State and Kampaiti and Lweje in Kachin State. Of them, Muse is a major cross-border trading point in Myanmar.
Myanmar exports more than 800,000 tonnes of watermelons and 150,000 tonnes of muskmelons every year.—Myo Win Tun/ Htet Myat (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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