Man­dalay veg­etable as­so­ci­a­tion gears up for more gum ex­ports

The Myanmar Times - - Business - KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

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.

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