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May 27, 2019

Future of coffee, our cash crop, is bright

  • After being ranked a speciality coffee globally, Myanmar coffee has begun fetching a reasonable price in the international markets. But, there is a lot that needs to be done to develop the sector.
    According to the global coffee quality specification, a coffee is considered special grade if it gets a cupping score of 80 and above. Coffee produced in Pyin Oo Lwin, Ywangan, and Thandaung in Myanmar has scored between 84 and 90, while coffee produced in Chin State has scored 96, giving it special quality status.
    The coffee sector in Myanmar still lags in terms of development due to weaknesses in processing technology compared with Thailand, Indonesia, and Viet Nam, shortcomings in information sharing, and a small market share, said Vice President U Henry Van Thio at the Coffee Forum 2019 in Mandalay on Wednesday.
    To develop the sector, we must seek loans from local and foreign sources for farmers.
    We also need to set up a business model where companies can guarantee prices in the market and offer to buy the produce from the farmers.
    Only then will farmers live with dignity from their work, while consumers will be faithful and satisfied with the quality.
    In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Myanmar exported about 762 tonnes of coffee and earned about US$ 2.9 million, while it imported instant coffee worth about $44 million.
    The figure shows that we have a big market for coffee at home, and we need to provide protection to local coffee producers so that imported products do not hurt their businesses.
    In today’s commodity market, coffee ranks second after oil and petroleum. Just as rice and lentils are the main agricultural produce and export commodities of Myanmar, coffee is a high quality crop and can generate a considerable foreign income for the country.
    Thus, everyone must work together to achieve our target of increasing coffee acreage up to 200,000 acres, with a production target of 600,00 tonnes of high-quality coffee by 2030.
    Chin State, which has a huge potential for investors, has emerged as a high grade coffee land, producing coffee of above 96 grade. A grade of more than 80 is considered a special grade globally.
    Chin State has more than 560 acres of coffee plantations at present. Annually, the acreage is expected to increase by 220 acres. By 2021, there will be a total of 1,220 acres under coffee cultivation.
    To expand and plant high-quality coffee such as Arabica and Robusta, we must work together to tackle current challenges and chart out good strategies for developing the coffee sector as soon as possible.

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