According to U Naing Win, chair of the Myanmar Melon Growers, Producers and Exporters Association, it is time for melon growers and traders in Myanmar to get more strategic with the volume of fruit they plan to produce for export purposes. It is up to them to make estimates on how much they can afford to lose in the coming year.
As a result of COVID-19, melon exporters had racked up losses amounting to millions on the back of larger volumes of wastage and slower demand at the Myanmar-China border this year. The melon export season normally starts in September and picks up speed between November and May.
"We need to gauge demand before the new season starts so we can estimate how much to grow to maximise profits," he said.
"We don't know the exact amount of losses yet this year but some estimate this amounts to US$100milllion. In the past, more than 800,000 tonnes of melons were exported and now it is only more than 500,000 tonnes ," said U Naing Win.
Fruits are mainly exported to China at the border. Before COVID-19, melons and cucumbers were the main fruit exports and revenue had been on the rise each year due to increasing demand. This year though, the decline in exports of watermelons and cucumbers was offset by a surge in demand for bananas at the start of the year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Revenue from Myanmar's fruit exports have reached US$370 million in the current fiscal year, which is on par with revenues generated over the same period in the previous fiscal year despite COVID-19, according to the Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association.