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Heightened coronavirus measures in China hurts watermelon exporters

As China is stepping up the coronavirus containment measures in the border areas, watermelon exporters are suffering. Some watermelon trucks are returning from the Myanmar-China North-East border checkpoint as the watermelon is not traded, and the truck drivers no longer bear the cost and tariff on the China border. Additionally, starting from 20 April 2021, the coronavirus test is mandatory for cross-border traders. Following the coronavirus cases on the border in Ruili of China to restrict border access at the Mang Wein checkpoint. Ruili-Kyalgaung river crossing is also closed. Furthermore, China imposed the lockdowns on Kyalgaung and Ruili cities. Kyinsankyawt and Wan Ding posts also restricted trading, truck drivers said. Around 400 trucks of watermelon and muskmelon previously entered China via Kyinsankyawt and Wan Ding posts.

For now, only a hundred trucks loaded with other goods are seen in the border area. Watermelon and muskmelon will be harvested up to May-end across the country, except Kayah and Chin states. Therefore, the cross-border fruit depots suggest that the growers harvest the watermelon depending on the market condition. As border post is sluggish amid the coronavirus resurgence, many watermelon trucks are stranded in Muse. Consequently, watermelon supply exceeds the demand, leading to possible market failure, Khwar Nyo Fruit Depot warned. A truckload of watermelon (855 variety) fetches 45,000-65,000 Yuan in mid-March. At present, watermelon price is drastically plunging, and it does not even cover the truck freight rate.

Myanmar’s watermelon market earlier relied only on China. Myanmar shipped 45 tonnes of seedless watermelon to the Dubai market in December 2020 and January 2021. After the country achieves success in the Dubai market, Myanmar plans to expand its market to Hong Kong SAR, the UAE and Qatar, the association stated. On 5 January 2021, 105th mile Fruit Wholesale Centre released a statement that the number of watermelon and muskmelon trucks for exports is to be set to govern the market. During the previous financial year, the growers and the traders suffered the loss due to the price instability and transportation difficulties triggered by the COVID-19. Myanmar yearly exports over 800,000 tonnes of watermelon and about 150,000 tonnes of muskmelons to China, the association stated. 

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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