Pineapple Sales Plummet in Myitkyina During Pandemic
By Network Media Group
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Sales of pineapple, once a profitable industry for many farmers and vendors around Myitkyina, plummeted this year, with many blaming the shuttered border with China during the pandemic for causing it by preventing Chinese wholesalers from reaching the Kachin State capital.
“The virus has impacted the pineapple market,” explained Khin Win, a wholesaler from Mang Krang ward in Myitkyina. Many Chinese came to buy the fruit last year, but not this year.
Travel restrictions that were in place since late March, which resulted in vital transportation routes being closed, have prevented domestic buyers from coming to Myitkyina from other parts of the state and Sagaing and Mandalay regions.
With too many sellers and not enough buyers, prices have receded to unprofitable levels, she said. “We exported pineapples to China last year. We can’t do it this year because the price is so low.”
“No-one comes to buy pineapples on our farms,” Khin Win said, explaining that many farmers are driving to Myitkyina to sell their fruit themselves. Before the pandemic, farmers could earn between 700 kyat (52 cents) to 1200 kyat (89 cents) per pineapple. Current prices are only fetching 400 kyat (30 cents) for each fruit.
“Farmers have lost a lot,” Ah Ser Mee told NMG. “It’s really hard for wholesalers to do business this year.”
Pineapple farming is labor intensive. And growing the fruit isn’t cheap. Because farmers have two harvests each year, they must fertilize twice a year and weed about five times annually. And they have to hire day-to-day workers to do it all. In addition, the plants don’t bear fruit until the following year, and live for only four years.
In Kachin State, pineapples are harvested between July and September.