Strategy needed to ensure smooth flow of perishable crops in Myanmar

Myanmar should smoothen the flow of crops from farms to domestic users as well as to the country’s ports and border trade points as COVID-19 continues to wreak uncertainty in the market, said Minister of Commerce U Than Myint.“Due to the recurring restrictions from COVID-19, we can expect disruptions in the supply of crops to end users like restaurants and markets as well as at the border. The whole crop supply chain is at risk and we must be prepared for this,” he said.

A system to ensure locally produced fruits like watermelons, muskmelons, oranges and tomatoes is delivered to buyers should be in place before the coming winter harvest, and the Ministry of Commerce has already contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to smoothen the logistics for these crops.Erratic restrictions imposed to manage COVID-19 such as requiring local truckers to take tests and swap vehicles at the Chinese and Thai borders have resulted in unanticipated delays and damaged goods, all of which have led to losses for farmers.

There have also been challenges in ensuring perishable crops and fruits are delivered to local outlets in a timely
manner, as there is a lack of storage capacity and restrictions imposed on the flow of logistics, such as curfews.“The difficulty is in transportation. Challenges arise when truck drivers who travel regionally delivering goods are forced to take COVID-19 tests every 72 hours,” U Kyaw Thu, member of Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association told the Myanmar Times.

He added that traffic congestion and delays are expected to increase in the winter season. “On the way to Muse, trucks have to line up for two or three days. Although a green lane has been implemented between Myanmar and China for fruits and perishable goods, the current infrastructure and arrangements will not be sufficient when volumes rise in winter,” he said.

U Aung Htoo, Deputy Minister of Commerce, said the government and private sector must cooperate to reduce traffic congestion as well as invest in cold storage facilities at border townships to ensure fruits and vegetables bound for exports are still in good condition when delivered to avoid losses.“This can’t be done overnight by one organisation. Some investments have to be carried out continuously with the long term aim of optimising exports and reducing wastage and losses,” he said.

What’s clear is the flow of goods from local farms to warehouses and depots across the border will be easier and more viable for farmers when cold storage facilities, packing houses and commodity exchange centers are built. This will also enable Myanmar to better meet foreign demands and avoid wastage and losses, U Aung Htoo said.It will also be strategic and helpful if some of these facilities can be developed in Mandalay as well as Lashio and Tangyan in Shan State, which are major agriculture-producing regions, as this will also help to keep goods fresh while in transit, said U Aung Htoo. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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