Wake up and smell the coffee, government tells growers

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Participants in a decade-old project to boost coffee production in Mandalay Region must get things brewing soon, officials said last month.

Companies must start growing coffee on land zoned for coffee plantations under the scheme by the 2014 growing season, the head of the Department of Industrial Crops Development in Pyin Oo Lwin district said.

Of the 18,000 acres in Pyin Oo Lwin and neighbouring areas zoned as coffee plantations, only 40 percent is being used to produce coffee. Only 5400 acres have reached the point where coffee can be harvested.

“The coffee project has been running since the 2001-02 financial year … it is now more than 10 years old,” U Myint Swe said at a coffee growing and producing workshop on July 29.

“Of the investors who were granted working permits for coffee plantation some have been successful with their coffee businesses but some investors haven’t started their plantations yet. That’s why Mandalay Region government has set a time limit to start growing coffee plants on the land,” he said.

He said the department isn’t sure yet what action it will take against those who do not meet the deadline but added that he believed it was better to encourage stragglers rather than punish them.

“Our department is going to urge investors [to get started] by giving coffee-growing training, holding workshops on coffee-growing and visiting coffee plantations and showing them how to grow it,” U Myint Swe said.

While land disputes may be an obstacle for some, these cases are now being discussed in the hluttaw, U Myint Swe added.

An independent coffee expert, U Kyaw Win, said some companies yet to plant are growing the “shady trees” needed to shelter the coffee shrubs. “But some of the land [under the project] is not being used for anything,” he said.

He suggested many of the companies lack the technical expertise to make the plantations a success.

“The coffee plants on some of the land died because the wrong techniques were used,” he said. “And it is difficult to make a profit even when the plantation is up and running.”

Those wishing to give up entirely and change crop can apply to the government, he said.

“If land owners would like to change to another crop because their lands aren’t suitable for a coffee plantation, they must present [their request] to the Central Committee for the Management of Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands,” he said. “They can substitute other crops if the authorities give approval.” – Translated by Thiri Min Htun

Participants in a decade-old project to boost coffee production in Mandalay Region must get things brewing soon, officials say.

Source: MMtimes

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