Pineapple growers are asking the government negotiate official exports of the crop to China as soon as possible, a farmers association says.
The call comes after pineapple cultivators suffered estimated losses of K700 million (US$458 million) during the previous harvest season when China suddenly banned imports of the fruit from Myanmar, the Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association (MFVP) revealed.
The MFVP held a meeting attended by Vice President U Myint Swe and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry last week to address the issue before the next pineapple season.
China’s ban on pineapples from Myanmar earlier this year caused the loss of some 24,800 tonnes of the fruit that would have been exported through the Muse border trade area, said MFVP Secretary Daw Sandar Myo.
Daw Sandar Myo said although the association asked to negotiate the exports of pineapples and avocadoes, China’s officials said they would only discuss exports of bananas, rice, tapioca and passion fruit.
She said the talks with Chinese official were held in the hopes of preventing another lost crop of pineapples next year. She added that Myanmar’s production of avocadoes is also rising and estimates 80,000 tonnes is set to be harvested next year and 200,000 tonnes in 2021. It hoped that China will be a major market for Myanmar’s growing avocado production.
Myanmar also exports pineapples to Thailand, although this market generates less revenue for farmers.
Daw Sandar Myo said the Ministry of Agriculture needs to work on behalf of local farmers to discuss the export of fruit crops to China and conduct timely pest risk analysis and risk assessment of local crops meant for export.
Although there are Chinese traders who want to buy pineapples and avocados from Myanmar, pest risk analysis needs to be conducted on the crops for official exports to take place, said Daw Sandar Myo.
“The government is doing its best; however, there have been delays and there are only six more months until the next pineapple season,” she said.
Some 90 percent of Myanmar’s avocadoes are normally exported to Thailand and talks should be held with China to expedite formal sales ahead of increasing harvests of the crop, she said.
According to Daw Sandar Myo, Vice President U Myint Swe agreed that priority should be placed on negotiating official exports of pineapples and avocados.
Myanmar is expected to negotiate China’s buying of pineapple and avocado during a meeting of on China-Myanmar border trade coordination set to take place soon before official export permits are granted.
The MFVP says for avocado and pineapple growers to prosper, the country needs capital investment in related small and medium enterprises (SME) to build packaging factories and dehydration plants to produce export-quality value-added goods. SMEs have struggled with raising capital for raw materials, machinery and labour costs it added.
SMEs face many difficulties providing collateral and meeting banking requirements for loans so the government should step in with funding, MFVP officials feel.
Official export procedures are lengthy as fruit exporters need to go to different departments to seek necessary documents and approval, and export licences often expire. This often causes fruit crops to go bad, said the MFVP.
To counter this, the authorities need to provide one-stop-service for necessary documents, said Daw Sandar Myo.
“Last year, watermelon growers sought bank loans as they struggled with financial difficulties. But collateral and other requirements it difficult to obtains loans,” she said.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win has said that the agricultural bank would provide specialised loans for fruit growers.
He said that the ministry would negotiate with private banks on the requirements for SME loans and state-owned banks would relax some restrictions if possible. – Translated