Myanmar Coffee Exports to Stimulate Agro Sector

The government has placed emphasis on the diversification of crops which have wide international markets access, in addition to paddy, and it hopes to increase coffee production.

Union Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Dr Aung Thu, said he hopes to increase the coffee acreage to 200,000 and exports to 60,000 tons by 2030.

“During the period from 2018 to 2030, coffee growing acreage is targeted to increase to 200,000. From this, we expect to export 60,000 tons of safe and high-quality coffee by 2030,” he said at a coffee forum held at the Thingaha Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw last Thursday.

Currently, Myanmar has about 50,000 acres under coffee that yield over 8000 tons of beans, it is learnt.

Dr Aung Thu said a coffee association has been formed and research indicate that there is a good market for for Myanmar coffee.

However, concrete policies and steps have to be taken and there must be cooperation between the public, private sectors as well with coffee growers who have access to long-term loans access.

He said that there must be cooperation between domestic and foreign organizations to ensure success.

“Coffee is the most important export item after petroleum in the international market,” said Vice President U Henry Van Thio.

Rice and pulses are the main foreign income generators among agricultural products and coffee is also one of the value-added industrial crops which can be a foreign exchange source, he added.

Department of Agriculture Director General Dr Ye Tint Tun said, “Myanmar Arabica coffee from the Pyin Oo Lwin and Ywa Ngan, Shan State, is a world-class specialty coffee and as it is now getting better prices and is earning more foreign exchange,” the Vice President added.

The price of Myanmar coffee has increased from K15 lakh per ton to over K30 lakh since 2015.

Myanmar Coffee is mainly grown in Shan State, Mandalay Region, Kayin State and Chin State.

According to official statistics, there are 27,000 acres in Shan State, 10,000 acres in Kayin State, about 5000 acres in Mandalay (Pyin Oo Lwin) and 2000 acres each in Kachin and Kayah States.

Small-scale coffee plantations can also be found in Tanintharyi, Bago and Ayeyarwady Regions.

The Department of Agriculture is preparing to expand the cultivation of highland coffee in Chin State and lowland coffee in Kayin State, Rakhine State and Tanintharyi Region to meet the 2030 target. 100,000 coffee seedlings are being grown mainly in Chin State per annum. Reproduction by tissue culture will be introduced in this year,” said Dr Ye Tint Tun.

Economist Dr Zaw Oo, who presented a paper at the forum with entitled ‘Myanmar Coffee Value Chain Development and International Lessons.’

In spite of having a fairly successful venture in exporting high-quality Myanmar coffee using the “from growers to consumers” tactic, it needs a better strategy to export in bulk.

He also suggested that research organisations be established, organise small-scale coffee growing schemes and to develop a fair practice mechanism between merchants and farmers, and create access to long-term loans.

Dr Ye Tint Tun said that “as coffee is harvested after five years, a five-year loan should be created for the farmers. It takes five years to pluck coffee beans.”

The Union Minister also pointed out that a strategy needs to be drawn up to connect with financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank for coffee loans in addition to the Myanmar Agriculture Development Bank.

However, U Saw Ki Do, a small-scale coffee grower in Than Taung Gyi, Kayin State, where the high-quality and famous Robusta coffee is produced, said that technology is required rather than more loans.

“The people in our region are not interested in loans. They don’t want to take the loans even they have easy access to them. Because after taking loans, they tend to misuse it. So, when its pay-back time they will be in trouble,” he told The Myanmar Times.

What they need is the technology, especially, at harvest and post-harvest, he added.

Dr Ye Tint Tun said that skilled workers are required at the time of coffee harvesting for plucking, drying and packing.

Price varies depending on coffee quality, he added.

The hot weather and low rainfall are additional problems for the growers which result in lower yield.

“The Robusta variety was produced in Than Taung Gyi during the British colonial time. At that time, a tree produced over 20 viss. Some over 30 viss. Now these trees are producing just about five viss per a tree,” U Saw Ki Do said.

Previously, the region got over 200 inches in rain and the temperature was 20 degrees centigrade. But now there is less than 200 inches rain and over 30 degrees centigrade in temperature, he added.

Therefore, coffee seeds that are adaptable to the climate of the various regions is being developed by the ministry.

Officials added that a guideline for good agriculture practice has been drafted and another on good conditions for exports has been created.

Myanmar exports coffee to Switzerland, Taiwan, China, USA, South Korea, Japan and Germany.

According to statistics from the Directorate of Trade, coffee exports amount to 506 tonnes in 2011-2012, 622 tons in 2012-2013, 1153 tons in 2013-2014, 1157 tonnes in 2014-2015 and 1137 tonnes in 2015-2016.

There are opportunities as well as challenges for expanding the coffee trade, Dr Ye Tint Tun said.

“Major challenge is the lack of market information,” he said. What is important is a culture of cooperation rather than focusing on individual benefits should be cultivated between the farmers and merchants, officials suggested.


Source: The Myanmar Times

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