Melon market bounces back

Seesawing melon prices are on the up again, thanks to a combination of falling production and rising demand in advance of the Chinese New Year. Honeydew prices are expected to climb to 5.5 yuan (US$0.88) per kilogram, up from a low of 1 yuan at the beginning of the year, say officials from the Myanmar Melon Growers’, Producers and Exporters Group.

U Naing Win, the group’s chair, told The Myanmar Times, “The price fell sharply at the beginning of the season. But it has now slightly bounced back. In the second week of February, watermelon price is between 1 yuan and 3.4 yuan per kilo depending on variety and quality, while honeydew fetches between 1 yuan and 5.5 yuan per kilo.”

He said melon production in 2012-13 exceeded 290,000 tonnes, dramatically increasing to 450,000 tonnes in 2013-14. The yield increased another 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes this year as farmers expanded their plantation area to capitalise on higher prices.

“Last year farmers got pretty high prices – 6 yuan a kilo for watermelon, 15 yuan for honeydew – because plantations in China were destroyed by storms. Those prices were the highest in 100 years. But when farmers extended their plantation acreage the prices dropped to the lowest in 100 years,” said U Naing Win.

At the beginning of the season, more than 300 trucks a day were ferrying melons to the border crossing point at Muse, plus another 100 trucks of honeydew, U Naing Win said. But later volume dropped to about half that. A spokesperson for Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association for Mandalay Region said local farmers had faced losses, requiring a better balance between supply and demand.

Apart from Chin and Kayah states, melons are grown in every part of the country. Sagaing, Mandalay and Bago regions are main growers of melon, according to Myanmar Melon Growers, Producers and Exporters Group. The growing season is September through May.


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