Mandalay vegetable association gears up for more gum exports
A MANDALAY Region fruit and vegetable association is hoping to boost Myanmar’s exports of a lucrative vegetable gum – karaya – that can be used in cosmetics, denture adhesives and windshield installation.
“Gum karaya is a very special crop. Any farmer can make a healthy profit on production,” said Daw Than Than Swe, vice chair of the Mandalay Region Fruits and Vegetables Producers and Exporters Association.
Gum karaya comes from a perennial plant that lives for years and can be harvested multiple times before replanting. It starts to produce gum after around five years and farmers can make around K200,000 a day from 200 plants, Daw Than Than Swe said. A tonne of gum karaya sells for K10 million in the local market, but top-quality gum can fetch K70 million on the export market, she added.
“Right now Myanmar gum karaya is being exported to China, but we need to seek a firm foreign market for export,” she said.
Myanmar relies heavily on Chinese demand for rice, corn and other agricultural products. But China’s crackdown on unlicensed trade across its border with Myanmar has resulted in a drop in imports that has hit Myanmar farmers hard.
A more stable market for Myanmar exports is important, but even more so is the need to make sure Myanmar can produce the highest quality gum that fetches the highest prices, she said.
“The most important thing is we have to try to improve our crop quality,” said Daw Than Than Swe. To this end the Mandalay Region Fruits and Vegetables Producers and Exporters Association has organised an association of gum karaya producers and exporters. The new organisation was formed on October 22 with growers from Myitkyina township and the regions of Mandalay, Magwe and Sagaing.
Daw Khin San, a member of the new association, said the producers would work to improve farming techniques and break into new export markets like Thailand.
“Our techniques have yet to
‘Gum karaya is a very special crop. Any farmer can make a healthy profit on production.’
Daw Than Than Swe Fruit and vegetables association
improve [to the standard of] other countries,” she said, adding that prices in the local market were not particularly high. “Therefore, we will try to improve our approach and break into the Thai market.”
U Kyin Maung, head of the Mandalay Region Agricultural and Irrigation Department, said his department had collected little data on gum karaya production in Mandalay, but would be cooperating with farmers to help them adopt modern techniques.