China Blocks Import of Burmese Pineapples, Causing Farmers Strife

Farmers grew more pineapples to meet Chinese demand, only to have their produce stopped at the border.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Traders and farmers are facing difficulties following a Chinese block on imported pineapples from Burma at the border gate in Muse, northern Shan State.

Local news sources have reported that China only allows the sale of fruits listed on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Chinese and Burmese governments—pineapples are not included among the eight designated fruits: watermelons, muskmelons, mangoes, plums, lychees, rambutans, mangosteens and rose apples.

“Farmers increased their crops of pineapples by tens of thousands of acres this year to meet demands from China,” Khin Khin Oo, the owner of a fruit import and export service at the 105-mile border trade zone in Muse, told NMG. “Now the Chinese authorities are blocking the import of pineapples from Burma. As a consequence, farmers, traders, sellers, and vehicle drivers are facing difficulties. They use to allow for the import of pineapples from Burma.”

Chairperson of the fruit selling association in the 105-mile trade zone Sai Myint Bo said that the customs department is enforcing the ban on pineapples, which began in June.

Farmers are instead selling their excess pineapples domestically, and at a loss.

“Farmers are selling their pineapples in Muse, Namkham and in the 105-mile border trading zone. They cannot sell all the fruits that they have,” Khin Khin Oo said. She added that each sells for 500-1,000 kyat (US$0.33-0.66).

“We have been trying to negotiate with Chinese fruit traders. We haven’t got any reply from them,” Sai Myint Bo said to NMG.

Traders demand on government to solve this problem faced by farmers. “It’s possible that our government could negotiate for it… If our government cannot negotiate, our farmers will suffer a lot. Farmers in Shan State especially plant corn and pineapples. Corn and pineapples are really difficult to export these days. Avocados and other fruits are also coming up. If farmers can not export their products, I can not imagine how our farmers will suffer.”

Farmers grow pineapples particularly in Hsipaw, Kon Hser, Sint En, and Kutkai in northern Shan State and Mong Reh, Panglong, Loi Lam and Namsan in southern Shan State.

According to traders, Chinese authorities have also blocked the import of other fruits import from Burma, including jackfruit and avocado.

Burma exports timber, livestock and agricultural products to China and imports processed foods, clothes, electronic materials, construction materials and machines.

Even though Chinese authorities have increased restrictions on Burmese imports, Chinese exports are still regularly flowing into Burma, locals said.

“Chinese authorities have tightened security on imported Burmese products along the China border since last October. So export to China has decreased dramatically,” Tin Ye Win, the director-general of the 105-mile border trading zone, told NMG.

There are border trading gates in Muse, Loije, Kanpeiktee and Chin Shwe Haw, China – Burma border. The border trading zone in Muse city is the biggest such zone in Burma.