Rakhine commerce minister sees bright future for black bean exports

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The Rakhine State commerce minister is hoping around 10,000 tonnes of black gram beans will be exported to India from Sittwe this year, pending completion of the Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport Project.

The Kaladan project will connect Mizoram in India to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, via the Kaladan River. The project was originally due for completion in 2014, but has been delayed. It has three components – upgrading Sittwe Port, developing the river for inland navigation, and expanding the road network.

The Myanmar Port Authority said in November that the work on Sittwe seaport was almost complete, according to local media. U Kyaw Aye Thein, Rakhine State Finance, Revenue, Planning and Commerce Minister, expects the upgraded port to be transferred to the government in March.

“Black gram will be exported through the port after it’s finished,” he said. “There are plans to plant black gram in order to export around 10,000 tonnes [this year].”

India is the key export market for most types of Myanmar beans, and Rakhine State is well positioned to ship exports by sea.

With the Kaladan transport project nearing completion Rakhine State is considering planting black gram in large quantities, although if the quality is not good enough the crop will be grown in the middle of Myanmar, said U Kyaw Aye Thein .

“But there will be benefits not only for farmers but also traders if Rakhine State is able to export [black gram] to India,” he said. “Sittwe will be main bean market for India exports because the goods [can be shipped] within a short time.”

The Rakhine State government has set aside around 300 acres in Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Buthidaung townships for growing black gram, he said. Seeds from these plantations will be distributed in order that more can be grown in coming years, he said.

But increasing black gram production in Rakhine State is not straightforward.

U Maung Htwee, a farmer from Kyauktaw township, said it is essential that black gram be planted immediately after the rainy season paddy harvest in November. But due to a shortage of labour and farm machinery in the region, the paddy harvest can often take too long for farmers to get round to planting beans.

“If black gram is planted after November the chance of a success[ful harvest] is much less,” he said. “It only works if [the crop] is planted instantly after the rainy season paddy harvest.”

Farmers who only find themselves free to plant black gram in December often do not bother.

The Rakhine State Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining, U Kyaw Lwin, said that a 50 acre test plantation of black gram in Rambre last year had failed because of a lack of technology and time constraints.

“It takes people 10 days to plough the amount machines can do in three hours,” he said. “So by the time people had ploughed the area the soil was too dry for planting, so it wasn’t successful.”

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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