Myanmar expands watermelon market to Middle East

Myanmar will begin exporting watermelons to Dubai and Qatar this week, said U Naing Win, Chair of the Myanmar Watermelon and Muskmelon Exporters and Producers Association.The move will help Myanmar diversify beyond China, where most of the country’s locally produced watermelons are now being exported to. If sustainable, this will benefit local farmers as it will enable them to reduce the risks of price volatility as a result of fluctuating Chinese demand.

“Exports to Dubai and Qatar will start on December 6. The cargo will be shipped in containers and will take about 17 days. If all goes well, we will be able to expand our exports to the UAE and Singapore later,” he said. As this is the first-ever shipment, only 25 tonnes of watermelons are being exported at prices similar to China. However, Myanmar is expecting orders to increase if things go well, U Win Naing added. Arrangements will be made to export muskmelons to the Middle East if the watermelons are well received.

Watermelon prices in Myanmar recently spiked to a high of 7200 yuan per tonne at the Myanmar, China border due to lower supplies this year, from just 2500 yuan per tonne in September. At the time, watermelon traders were suffering the steepest losses in over 20 years because of COVID-19 due to a collapse in orders and border closures.

At current levels, watermelon prices at Muse, the border town between Myanmar and China, are the highest in years. The last time prices were at this level was in fiscal 2013-14. With the number of watermelon growers in Myanmar dwindling and COVID-19 restricting the number of trucks at the border, supply has become tighter and traders are expecting prices to rise higher in the weeks to come.

“In the past, we had over 300 trucks arriving on a daily basis but the number has dropped to 50 now. There is a huge gap between supply and demand,” U Win Naing said.“If exports to the Middle East are successful, we will be able to avoid the price fluctuations we are seeing now. The volatility will persist if we depend only on one market,” he said.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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