August 18, 2016

Bago watermelon export to China halted by falling prices

Farmers loading a bullock cart with watermelons. Photo: Aye Min Soe
Farmers loading a bullock cart with watermelons. Photo: Aye Min Soe

THE lower price offered by Chinese traders for watermelons grown in Bago Region has halted the trade of the fruit, it has been reported.
The price offered by Chinese watermelon buyers was previously as much as K2,500 per watermelon, but as of this month of February, this had fallen to just K1,500 per fruit, resulting in substantial losses for watermelon growers.
“The fall in the value of the Chinese RMB could also be a cause for Chinese trades to play with prices. Just as one can make a good profit from watermelons, one can also make an equally large loss. There are many people who are buying up whole plots of watermelons and exporting them to China.” said U Thar Hla, a watermelon trader from the Bago Region township of Daik Oo. The main cultivating Bago Region townships of watermelon are Daik Oo, Bago, Waw, Thanatpin, Kawa and Paya, of which watermelon plots owners have, as of February, all ceased their trading of the fruit with China.
It is known that the number of watermelon stalls along the Yangon-Mawlamyine highway road, which sell the fruit grown by farmers in Waw township, have doubled to eighty stalls since last year.
“The majority of watermelon farmers are facing losses because of the fall in price of the fruit right at the time of its harvest. It was the same case last year. As one can’t make ends meet from selling to China anymore, people are setting up road side stalls to sell of their produce. They are striving to get back their investment.” said U Kyaw Hlaing, a watermelon farmer from a village in Waw township.
Watermelons are planted in November and can be sold from the following January, and are commonly grown as a fruit in the wake of the monsoon paddy harvest season, according to local growers. The acreage of watermelons will decline later this year as a direct result of losses made from the fall in the price of trade from China, while current expenses of one acre of watermelons – including costs of seed, fertiliser, ploughing and irrigation – require an investment of up to around K1 million, it is known from region watermelon farmers.


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