Watermelon growers suggested 50% production drop next growing season

Watermelon growers flooded markets with excess supply this year and led to a market failure. Consequently, they are suggested to reduce the sown acreage acres by 50 per cent for the coming season, cross-border fruit depots stated. This year, about 30,000 trucks of watermelon and 12,000 trucks of muskmelons were conveyed to China via the land border. Nevertheless, a thousand trucks went in vain as they stranded in the road part, affecting the quality of the fruits. Some watermelons have been disposed of as well. The exports of watermelon drastically plunged as against last year as watermelon supply is exceeding the demand and transport delay triggered by the heightened COVID-19 measures in the border areas harm the quality of the fruits. As a result of this, the traders are encouraged to keep market balance and maintain the quality, Khwar Nyo Fruit Depot stated.

As China is stepping up the coronavirus containment measures in the border areas, the exporters of agricultural products including watermelon are suffering amid the COVID-19 resurgence. This year, some watermelon trucks returned from the Myanmar-China North-East border checkpoint as the watermelon was not traded well and the truck drivers were 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 detection of the coronavirus cases in border Ruili, China restricted border access at the Man Wein checkpoint. Ruili-Kyalgaung river crossing has been also closed. Only Kyinsankyawt post is available for cross-border trade, causing delays and long queues. It takes about a month for a truck to enter the checkpoint.

As a result of this, the cross-border fruit depots suggest that the growers harvest the watermelon depending on the market condition to avoid a mismatch between supply and demand. A truckload of watermelon (855 variety) fetches 45,000-65,000 Yuan in mid-March. The price drastically plunged to 13,000 Yuan in mid-May 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 has a plan 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. 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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