Chinese imports of SE Asian bananas limited by COVID-19 pandemic

The peak period of Chinese import of bananas from Myanmar takes place every year between October and May. The daily import volume at Houqiao port in Yunnan can reach around 100-200 trucks. However, this year the import of bananas from Myanmar encountered many obstacles as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. More recently the import of bananas from Myanmar has come to a complete halt, and only now is trade slowly resuming. He Zhongpu, general manager assistant at Yunnan Jinxinda Agriculture Co., Ltd. (hereafter 'Jinxin Company') recently talked about the production and retail conditions of bananas from Myanmar.

"There were many obstacles for transport after the outbreak of COVID-19 in February, because of widespread isolation measures. The provincial government in Yunnan closed down many ports and this brought banana import from Myanmar effectively to a standstill. The domestic situation greatly improved by the end of February and the market gradually recovered. Yunnan re-opened its ports.

"However, less two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe. Southeast Asian countries began to take a careful approach to international trade. Many countries adopted isolation measures to avoid further infection brought in by travelers. Yunnan announced a series of new measures after the 17th of March. These measures were aimed at strengthening border control and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Regular cars were not allowed across the border, but special exceptions were made for trucks," said manager He.

"Although local government took measures to support distribution, there were still some problems when it came to transport. Foreign drivers had to deliver and unload their products at the border, where Chinese drivers loaded them onto Chinese trucks for further distribution. Houqiao port in Yunnan currently handles around 70 trucks full of bananas from Myanmar every day. That is only one third of the import volume of previous years. However, we expect the conditions to improve in the coming weeks."

"Banana farmers in Myanmar suffer daily losses of more than 4 thousand tons of bananas in total. That is not just our company, the entire banana import industry suffers from the spread of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia," said manager He. "All ports are strictly managed, which means that bananas from Laos also encounter obstacles at the border. Banana processing facilities in the Philippines have a shortage of workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many bananas are left to rot in the plantations. The production volume greatly declined. However, domestic market demand is growing stronger, while domestic supply is limited. The Chinese market urgently needs import bananas."

Jinxin Company has a banana plantation in Kachin, in the north of Myanmar. The plantation has more than 6,667 hectares and mainly produces the Brazil Williams banana variety. The annual production volume is more than 300 thousand tons.

When asked about the advantages of bananas from Myanmar, manager He replied: "The overall surface area devoted to banana plantation in north Myanmar exceeds 2 thousand hectares. These plantations can supply bananas all year long. The natural environment in north Myanmar is not polluted by nearby industries and the soil is fertile. Furthermore, banana farmers in Myanmar on average only use a quarter of the amount of pesticide that Chinese farmers use. The weather is great and the temperature difference between night and day is big, which is beneficial for the development of bananas. The product quality is excellent and the sugar content is quite high. The banana peel is smooth, and the flavor of these bananas is more fragrant and more glutinous than bananas from other production areas."

For more information:

He Zhongpu - General manager assistant

Yunnan Jinxinda Agriculture Co., Ltd.

Tel.: +86 13708752139 


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