Watermelons fetch high prices in Muse market

Trucks laden with watermelons wait for inspection to enter China.  Photo: Thant Zin
Trucks laden with watermelons wait for inspection to enter China.  Photo: Thant Zin

With the Chinese New Year approaching, watermelons are high in demand and they are fetching a higher price this year than last year, said traders.
“Watermelon prices are ranging from 15,000 to 44,000 Yuan per 15 tons, depending on the quality. Muskmelons are priced at 3.5-5.5 Yuan per kilo,” according to the market.
“Strengthening of the Kyat in the forex market hurts exporters. Despite the high price of watermelons, the depreciation of the Yuan is a challenge for traders. Otherwise, it can be seen Kyat appreciation. But, the commodity prices have still not been affected. Muse traders need to consider a possible large supply against demand,” said the owner of Khwarnyo Trading Co. Ltd.
On 8 January, 264 trucks loaded with watermelons, 60 trucks carrying muskmelons, and one corn truck entered the Muse market.
China’s watermelon production is below self-sufficiency levels, prompting its traders to import Myanmar’s watermelons. The quality, size, skin, and water content are crucial in watermelon trade, said traders.
“During the rainy season last year, watermelon traders incurred some losses due to flaws and poor fruit quality. Trade did not cover the high input costs,” said U Aung Saw from ChaungU Township in Sagaing Region.
“As the Chinese New Year is drawing nearer, watermelon is witnessing strong trade. Earlier, traders were making losses. For now, watermelon is fetching a good price. The price mainly depends on quality. Having said that, the stakeholders in the supply chain, especially growers and freight forwarders, play a pivotal role in trade. China prefers watermelons of the same size and quality,” said the owner of Shweminthar depot.
A truck driver shared his concerns about security along the trade channel in light of previous security threats. “Now, transportation and security maters are not that bad. Fruits of good quality are bought quickly,” he said.
Watermelons and muskmelons top the list of fruits exported to China, and the export volume has been increasing significantly year over year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Myanmar currently exports around 800,000 tons of watermelons per year.
The volume of watermelon exports was estimated at 500,000 tons in the 2014-2015 financial year, over 560,000 tons in the 2015-2016FY, and over 170,000 tons in the 2018 mini-budget period (from April to September).
Watermelons and muskmelons are primarily grown in Mandalay and Sagaing regions and Shan State. Myanmar’s watermelons and muskmelons have grabbed a large market share in China. — Thant Zin/ Ko Khant (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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