SURVEY ITEMS FOR VALUE CHAINS OF
FIVE SELECTED FRUIT IN MYANMAR
Dr. Than Than Sein
In Myanmar, most tropical fruit are well cultivated in different areas and topographies. This is why many kinds of fruit are available on a year-round basis. The Myanmar horticulture industry is at a starting point but the domestic producers are able to meet all local demand and can still have the capacity to export.
The value chain of tropical fruit production starts at the farm. Proper preharvest farming and postharvest handling practices have been extended by the Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association or MFFVPEA through many training and knowledge sharing to the growers. MFFVPEA is also carrying out its activities with help from FAO, GIZ and others organizations to be able to set standards such as Good Agricultural Practice (GAPs) and organic certifications for the marketing improvement, food safety and quality control of tropical fruit. Annual fruit festivals, trade fairs and regular farmers market were created by MFFVPEA as market linkage and enhancement of export opportunities.
The most important aspect for the fruit industry is the need to streamline all the processes from product selection to reach end users across the whole country and also to target the export market. Infrastructures and investments are still needed to become modern producers with all the steps and procedures to compete in the world market. Therefore MFFVPEA, ( Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC ) and other investors are trying to construct the high quality fruit and vegetable market with cold storage facilities in Yangon, Nay Pyi Daw and Mandalay.
Keywords: Tropical fruit, GAPs, food safety, postharvest practices, Myanmar
Myanmar is geographically located between 9 ° 58´ to 28° 31´ north and 9 ° 29´ to 10° 10´ east. Bounded by land on the northwest and the remaining sides by sea, it stretches for about 1,275 miles from north to south and 582 miles from east to west. Total area is 26,1228 square miles.
Myanmar is a forest-clad mountainous country, with plateaus, valleys and plains. The mountain ranges are located with varying altitudes ranging from 3000 to 7000 feet from natural boundaries between Myanmar and its neighboring countries.
The country’s population is increasing steadily at an annual growth rate of 1.8% with approximately 50 million people in 2014. Seventy-five percent of the country’s total population are living in rural areas and are highly dependent on agriculture.
The different agro-climatic zones, embracing the extensive deltaic region, the long coastal strips, the central zone and the hilly regions have given rise to the cultivation of fruit.
Myanmar has two distinct dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from mid-October to mid- May and the rest of the year is known as the wet season. The agro-climatic conditions of Myanmar range from equatorial to cool-temperate, and remain suited to a large variety of fruit.
The four principal rivers in Myanmar, namely the Ayeyarwady, Chindwin, Sittaung and Thanlwin and their tributaries can be considered national water assets. The total annual inflow works out to 876 million acre-feet.
Myanmar is an agro-based country and 80% of its economy relies on agriculture. Due to its different topographies, both tropical and temperate fruit are available on a year-round basis.
Related to the country survey report, data and analysis of the value chain of the country’s top four fruit, mango, avocado, citrus (pomelo), guava, and banana were studied. They are popular fresh fruit for the export market. But fresh tropical fruit are also inherently prone to deterioration due to the country’s hot and humid climate.
Therefore preprocessing and processing steps play important roles in the value chain system. Knowledge sharing, training and following up of interventions and partner linkages contribute to improving the skills and knowledge of value chain actors and service providers. MFFVPEA carried out rapid market assessments which are helpful in identifying potential markets. New market arrangements of MFFVPEA still need to be developed once volume of improved fruit increases. Sophisticated postharvest handling, market arrangements and better linkages will be required for Myanmar. Appropriate phytosanitary arrangements to avoid the possible spread of plant diseases and pests will be improved through GAPs certification for future production. Changing the market oriented policy and foreign investments law in Myanmar, and development of contract farming for fruit production will also be encouraged.
Objectives of the survey
The general objective of the survey is to assess the fruit value chain and related data for the Myanmar fruit sector. The specific objectives are:
Major forms of usage
There is a relationship between Myanmar’s traditional beliefs and the usage of tropical fruit. Myanmar people pay respect to Buddha, Dhamma (His Doctrine), and Snagha (His followers). Fruit are utilized as offerings and valuable for superiors.
Every Myanmar Buddhist donates flowers and fruit at the altar of Buddha. If somebody has good quality fruit, they do not eat this first. They share and present the fruit to his/her parents and teachers.
Fig. 1. The altar of Myanmar Buddhist people
Table 1. Major forms of fruitusage
As showed in Table 1, the eating style of fruit in Myanmar are varied. Myanmar still needs to develop its fruit processing industry and value-added products based on the fruit. Therefore fresh fruit is more popular than the processed products.
Fig. 2 shows that in Myanmar, food processing is still in its home industry stage which is basically manual production.
Fig. 2. Homemade mango leather
Preferred fruit appearance, taste and aroma
Table 2. Preferred fruit appearance, aroma and taste
Myanmar consumers select the fruit based on their external appearance specifically for mango, avocado, guava and banana. For pomelo, the sellers give samples to the consumers for them to taste the fruit after it has been cut. If the taste is nice and acceptable, the buyers buy the fruit. Avocado growers are not yet able to decide the fruit maturity—some immature avocado can be found in the market. Banana is the second priority fruit for offering after coconut. The green banana without visual scars are the buyers’ choice.
Farmgate value from 2008-2013
Fig. 3. Farmgate price of fruit
Table 3. Farmgate Price
The farmgate values vary on the opinions of fruit brokers who visited the orchards and estimated the price depending on the fruit trees plant growth and potential yield. First, when bought at their vegetative growth, the price is lower than the price of the next plant stages.
The orchard owner does not do any specific plant cultural practice after they have paid in cash to the brokers.
In Myanmar fruit brokers can have more benefits rather than growers.
Table 4. Major varieties and growth characteristics
Government programs for the promotion of specific fruit varieties and their constraints
For Fruit Sector Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Department of Agriculture, Horticulture and Biotechnology Division is transferring the technology through demonstration plots after selection of good quality varieties of fruit in the laboratories and field.
That section has 32 union budget farms, two union budget training centers, five union budget laboratories, two union budget education zones, four union budget model farms, and 22 division budget farms for demonstration.
Total farm area of 1,2404.797 acres and 4,277.80 acres were cultivated with horticultural crops including fruit (3,426.62 acres).
Under the Department of Agriculture, VFRDC (Vegetable and Fruit Research and Development Center) is producing the seedlings of mango, dragon fruit, guava, pomelo, orange and banana.
Horticulture and Biotechnology Division are giving the following training programs to the fruit growers.
1. Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs)
2. Postharvest technology
3. Mango leather
4. Organic farming
5. GAPs inspection
6. Horticulture crop development
7. Good quality pomelo production
8. Mango growing techniques
9. Fruit propagation techniques
10. Pesticide handling
VFRDC is doing research on the following areas.
DOA has been carrying out the model farm in Nay Pyi Taw namely Set Set Yo where is located near Set Set Yo dam, Ko Ywar Tha Pyay Kone Village , Ottarathiri Township. It has 900 acres and currently growing fruit and vegetables on a 50-acre pilot farm.
IPR of major varieties
In Myanmar IP law (Intellectual Property Law) is undergoing processing. The Ministry of Science and Technology, IP section is conducting the IP affairs in Myanmar for the following six items: geographical indication; copyright; patent, industrial design; and trade secret, trademark).
In The IP section, most people are currently working in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization to have data regarding potential GI products which include fruit in Myanmar.
MFFVPEA is now trying to register as Myanmar GI product for Sein Ta Lone mango in Mandalay region. Korea KIPO, KIPA will support to have branding strategy and GI registration.
Fig. 4. Potential for GIs for Myanmar
Average orchard size
The orchard size are 1-2 acres to 100- 300 acres. Large land owners are very few. The rest of orchard owners are small-scale holders. The average farm size is 5-10 acres. 2.47 acres are equal to 1 hectare.
Orchard plant density and layout
Plant spacing is directly related to plant height
20X 20 ft spacing= 20X 0.67 = 13.40ft (Plant height)
Table 5. Orchard plant density and layout
MFFVPEA provided the knowledge related to plant height and spacing relationship was passed on by a Professor from the University of Florida.
The formula is
Plant heightX 0.67= Spacing
20 ft X 0.67 =13. 4ft
If the spacing is fixed, tree training and pruning should be done according to the formula.
The plant population can be calculated for one acre as follows:
Plant population = 43,560 square ft/spacing (20ftX20ft) = 108 Plants
Average time (months or years) from the initial field planting to the first harvest
Table 6. Average time for first harvest
Average fruit bearing life span (months or years)
Table 7. Fruit bearing life span
Major types of planting materials (i.e., seeds, cuttings, seedlings, grafts, layering, scions, etc.)
Table 8. Major types of planting materails
Number and size (volume) distribution of major planting materials of both domestic and importing suppliers
As a result of the interview with a well-known local plant materials sellers in Mandalay, 300,000 grafted seedlings were sold yearly.
Pomelo air layering can be sold from 30,000 to 50,000 plants in Yangon, Pegu region and Mon State.
Importing suppliers are rare to find in the case of the five selected fruits.
Table 9. Production system of planting materials
There are no known grafting practices for avocado. Therefore avocado varieties are difficult to identify.
Producers' predilection for planting materials: self propagation or purchase from suppliers
The fruit growers practiced in both ways of self-production and purchasing from suppliers. But they bought new varieties from others. Normally they can propagate themselves on their own fruit orchards.
Farmgate and retail unit prices of major types of planting materials
Table 10. Unit price of planting materials
Quality or required standards of planting materials (e.g., true-to-type, size and shape, inspection, disease-testing, and certification system, etc.)
Fig. 5. Mango seedlings
Both private sector and the government are producing their ways without following the required standard. But VFRDC are producing the tissue cultured banana as virus free suckers.
Replacement rate of planting materials
The seedlings were hardened under the nursery shed, there are low rates for replacement for planting materials. The seedling sellers have already made sure of the seeds’ viability.
Crop management (e.g., forcing, girdling, pruning, thinning, training, etc.)
Table 11. Crop management on five selected Fruit
Soil and water management (e.g., major types, amount and frequency of fertilizers and irrigation)
The fruit growers could use chemical fertilizers for soil fertility management because it gives higher income compared with the income of rice farmers. Therefore there is extreme and strong acid condition that happens in their orchards. The acidity of soil situation was caused by heavy rainfall because most of the growers use the acid forming fertilizers like ammonium sulphate. Urea fertilizer utilization was also recorded in very low amount. Therefore liming is the required practice to improve the soil's pH. Two tins of calcium carbonate or dolomite were recommended for application by the MFFVPEA trainer team.
Regarding the organic carbon content in soil, some growers have medium level while others have low content. They needed to practice organic fertilizer application. That was why organic fertilizer formulation and application were taught to them in both practical and theoretical sense. A cheap way of organic fertilizer making should be introduced.
The weather is favorable for fungus adaptation in the area and can be serious and of epidemic proportion to all plantations. Sanitation, drainage and systematic management in plantation should be practiced. MFFVPEA trainer team who introduced Trichoderma fungi cultivation will be very helpful to their future farm management. That fungi is also useful in composting and controlling the soil-borne fungus disease.
The farm by-product as the raw materials for composting and including the plant nutrients were taught by LNGO, INGO and DOA staff. It is therefore favorable to practice vermiculture and vermi-compost with banana stems, fallen leaves and skin, etc.
The current situation of commercial fruit production can be attributed to the following factors.
Irrigation practice is very important for banana, mango and guava especially at flower initiation time. These fruit crops like water but dislike water logging so it is important to be careful in handling the drainage system.
Provision of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides with installment can help farmers in learning the proper way of handling them. Also farm equipment such as ploughing machine, water pump with solar cell, digging machine are required. Soil test kits and portable pH meter, litmus paper will be useful to help diagnose the soil condition.
Major biotic constraints and their extent (e.g., diseases, pests, disordered reproductive physiology, scale and proportion of affliction, etc.)
Powdery mildew disease, stem end rot disease and anthracnose are serious problems that plague mango trees. The trees are also attacked by fruit flies, seed weevil, pulp weevil, thrips and aphids. In Mandalay region, seed weevil and pulp weevil attacks on mango trees are less compared to the Southern Shan State.
Fig. 6. Fruit flies bite the mango
Leaf-feeding (avocado whitefly, persea mite, avocado thrips and avocado lacebug) and fruit-feeding insects (fruit boring moths and weevils), end rot disease and tarspot pathogens also attack avocado.
Fig. 7. Stem end rot pathogen on avocado
Fig. 8. Phytophthora disease on avocado
The important diseases and pests of avocado are widespread and probably affect production in Myanmar. Phytophthora root rot (PRR), caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi is the most important disease of avocado.
Guava has less problem compared to other fruit. Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) may attack the fruit during the rainy season. Pestalotia psidii sometimes causes canker on green guavas in Myanmar and rot the fruit after harvesting. Guava is the alternative host of fruit flies in mango orchards.
Fig. 9. Fruit flies attack the guava fruit
Fig. 10. Larva stage of fruit flies in the over ripen fruit
Fig. 11. Malformation of mango
Fig. 12. Malformation of fruit in mango
Malformation in mango is caused by causal organism (Fungus) – Fusarium moniliforme. The floral malformation causes significant loss in fruit production. Vegetative malformation happens seriously in seedlings and small plants but also in mature trees.
Vegetative malformation symptoms are now seriously found in Mandalay region. The growers are facing the problem with no concrete solution. Some extreme infections on all apical buds cause the plant to be stunted.
Panama disease and sigatoga disease are considered serious problems in banana. Ethylene used for forced ripening (degreening) is also a major problem in Myanmar.
Fig. 13. Plant borers attack the avocado trees
Fig. 14. Larval stage of plant borer
Ywa Ngan Township, Southern Shan State area has serious problem in plant borers which usually attack avocado and mango trees. After penetrating the stem, the larva goes to the upper branches. Then the infected branches turn dry and the whole plant eventually dies.
Major abiotic constraints and their extents (e.g., cold spell, high temperature, heavy rainfall, scale and proportion of affliction, etc.)
The fruit growers from different regions have different types of abiotic constraints. The growers from Shan State sometimes face cold spell and fog attacks during the fruiting season of mango and avocado. Shan State is located more than 4000 ft above sea level in the southern east part of Myanmar with a temperate weather considered as sub-tropic in nature.
The Ayeyar waddy Delta and Mon State can have heavy rainfall which make soil acidic and increase the level of water lodging. This is also one of the problems faced by banana and pomelo growers.
Sap burn and damage can be seen at harvesting due to insufficient labor. According to the interview and field study, banana growers also face the following problems:
1. Extremely high soil acidity;
2. Utilized chemical fertilizers for high yield;
3. Lack of knowledge in making organic fertilizers (except for rice husk ash);
4. Decreasing physical and biological properties of soil.
5. High humidity caused by heavy rain making it favorable for fungus infection (Eg.Fusarium wilt disease)
Banana growers rarely utilize potassium fertilizers.
Fig. 15. After bagging the tree
Prevailing diagnostic methods for pests and diseases and pests
Majority of fruit growers are very familiar with pests and diseases in their orchards. Sometimes they may find new problems and discuss this with each other, together with extension workers from PP section of DOA. The staff of LNGO and INGO also contribute and extend their help to solve the problem.
Control measures for major constraints (e.g., briefs of prevailing methods, amount and frequency of pesticides used, effectiveness, etc.)
The fruit growers utilized the pesticides including herbicides and fungicides with instructions (and sometimes without instructions). Some imported pesticides have no translation on how to utilize them in the vernacular language.
Most fruit growers did not understand the MRL and PHI of each pesticide and the consequences of utilizing the DOA, Extension section and MFFVPEA are jointly carrying the education activities regarding pesticides.
Regulations or promulgations regarding orchard sanitation, management of major pests and diseases, and rejuvenation of old fruit trees
MFFVPE is working with FAO and DOA for the control of fruit flies with protein baits, and methyl eugenol. Practicing good sanitation is one of the best practices to reduce the attack of pests and diseases.
The MFFVPEA, trainer team also added the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program to the syllabus of extension education.
MFFVPEA, DOA and USAID farmer-to-farmer program are providing the tree training technologies on mango, avocado, and pomelo .
Extent (proportion) in the employment of GAPs, traceability, etc.
MFFVPEA had attended the GAPs training funded by New Zealand Aid program at Mekong Institute. At that time, the government sector officers were not able to attend the training. Status of GAPs in Myanmar was mentioned according to the record from government officials.
During the 3rd Meeting of the Experts Working Group on ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices (EWG-ASEAN GAP) held on 14-16 May 2012 in Thailand, Myanmar was requested to provide updates on the development of national GAPs. As reported, the translation of ASEAN GAPs into various national languages was completed but the country is still in the process of approving the legal basis for the national standard. This was confirmed by the TNA team during the visit to Myanmar in January 2013.
During the discussion with senior-level officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the current focus of the Myanmar government is on rice production, leaving all other important concerns on the side. ASEAN GAPs only cover fresh fruit and vegetables and are still considered new in the regional and international context. Even among the Ministry, there is a lot of confusion on what GAPs really mean as other organizations refer to GAPs as the efficient use of production inputs (e.g., use of certified seeds, application of recommended amount of fertilizers, efficient use of water through good irrigation practices, etc.).
This confusion is made worse by many existing standardized system such as organic, ASEAN GAPs, Global GAPs, etc. With the lack of common understanding among government officials, it is not surprising that producers, especially the small-scale farmers, do not have knowledge about this new initiative. According to the UMFCCI, there is still a long way to go in terms of promoting the concept of GAPs in Myanmar even after the government approval of its national GAPs as efforts of the private sector is currently focused on organic production. They believe that GAPs are still new and contain a lot of regulations especially on the record keeping aspect. This may be difficult for small-scale farmers to follow. Some of the GAPs regulations also require installation of new facilities (e.g. storage area for chemicals) which small-scale farmers cannot afford. With the lack of government funds and GAPs-trained personnel, support program from the government is unlikely and a delay in the nationwide implementation of the GAPs program is expected.
Confronted with the many constraints in the promotion of GAPs, and the lack of complete understanding about ASEAN GAPs in Myanmar, both the government officials and concerned staff of UMFCCI have expressed the need for increased awareness on GAPs at all levels and suggest organizing capacity-building activities that involve participation from CLV and other ASEAN countries which have succeeded in promoting GAPs. The nature of the program is more on learning from other countries’ experiences and understanding GAPs’ basic principles and requirements. This suggestion indicates that Myanmar lags far behind Cambodia and Laos which had already enacted a legal basis for GAPs adoption and had translated the four modules of ASEAN GAPs. It is also interesting to note that Myanmar has only participated once in the annual meetings held by Experts Working Group on ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices (EWG-ASEAN GAPs) indicating the government’s lack of priority for GAPs.
The data and information gathered from the review of existing literature plus some insights from the discussions with senior level government officials and the private sector are presented below and organized under four categories: key agencies involved and current initiatives, government policies in support of GAPs, donors/development partners involved in GAPs activities, and difficulties and constraints in GAPs promotion.
Key agencies involved and current initiatives
The key agencies and their roles in promoting GAPs and other postharvest practices in Myanmar are summarized below.
Table 12. Key agencies and their roles in promoting GAPs and postharvest practices in Myanmar, 2013
Government officers listed that MFFVPEA is the certifying body for organic products and currently wants to be the certifying body for GAPs products. MFFVPEA, trainer team is providing the rules and regulations of GAPs for their members. The approval of minister will be expected to come out in 2015.
Government policies in support of GAPs
Myanmar is still in the process of approving the legal basis for the national GAPs standards.
The table below describes the various government policies supporting GAPs and those related to food quality and safety.
Donors/development partners involved in GAPs activities
An attempt was made to identify the donors and development partners working on GAPs in Myanmar to determine how much support the country gets from development projects that focus in this area. From secondary sources and discussions held with government agencies involved in promoting GAPs, the involvement of donors and development partners appears to be limited.
The organizations involved in GAPs and postharvest activities in Myanmar are presented below:
Table 13. Donors involved in GAPs and postharvest activities in Myanmar, 2013
During the interviews with selected government officials involved in promoting GAPs, some of the difficulties and constraints faced by people involved in the horticulture sector of Myanmar were discussed as shown and summarized as "Constraints in Promoting GAPs and postharvest practices in Myanmar, 2013".
Since the full implementation of GAPs is not in the national priority list, the government focuses more on rice production. ASEAN GAPs only covers fresh fruit and vegetables and still new in regional and international context. Producers, especially the small-scale farmers, do not have knowledge about this new initiative. There are many existing standardized system such as organic, ASEAN GAPs, Global GAPs, etc., which confuse farmers.
Harvesting (initial time, duration, etc.)
The harvesting methods are used in traditional ways. Manual plucking is done at the time and entails huge labor. Maturity was also tested as part of indigenous knowledge.
The refractometer and color chart was also useful in deciding the suitable harvesting time (Fig. 16).
Fig. 16. Myanmar fruit calendar
All of the trees are cultivated during the rainy season in Myanmar. For guava, air layering plants are grown and bear the fruit one year and eight months after they have been planted. Banana and guava fruit trees are considered year-round bearing fruit.
Pomelo, which were cultivated in Yangon Bago Regions, Mon and Kayin State could be available fruit in November. Tanintharyi and Kachin State’s pomelo can be harvested starting from August to next year January.
Major harvesting practices
The fruit growers harvested all kinds of fruit at the coolest time of the day.
For mangoes, fruit growers decided that maturity is the determining factor for harvesting and they confirm this by doing the test. The grower plucked the fruit samples on trees and put them in water. While there were fruit that could not float the growers just decided to harvest all of the fruit.
The growers used harvesting using bamboo poles with bamboo basket.
Major methods of assembling, grading, packaging and hauling of fresh produce
Refer to Figs. 17-21.
Fig. 17. Packaging of mangoes
Fig. 18. Collector, assembler sending off the fruit to the market
Fig. 19. Collector, assembler sending off the fruit to the market by bullock cart
Fig. 20. Collector, assembler sending off the fruit to the market by bullock cart
Fig. 21. Collector, assembler sending off the fruit to the market by bullock cart
Fig. 22. Knowledge and information flow of value chain in Myanmar
In Myanmar, the important issues related to fruit sector improvement are infrastructure development such as electricity, public transportation including the red tape system in government. Certifiable international production, food safety and quality standards are also required to keep industry players abreast with other ASEAN countries.
In Myanmar, majority of fruit growers are small-scale farmers who should learn how to integrate their products in the value chain. The lack of technologies in postharvest and food processing are also needed to improve the indsutry. There should also be deep awareness regarding plant pests and disease outbreaks coming from neighboring countries.
Appropriate production technologies, sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, market linkages can be conducted through private-public partnership. For banana growers, market linkages are the most important thing to develop in order to have proper profits. Developing associations like SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and CF (Contract Farming) will play a vital role in production.
List of Abbreviations
MOAI= Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation
MOST= Ministry of Science and Technology
DOA= Department of Agriculture
DAR = Department of Agriculture Research
YAU = Yezin Agriculture University
VFRDC= Vegetable and Fruit Research and Development Center
UMFCCI= Union of Myanmar federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry
MFFVPEA= Myanmar Fruit Flower and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association
IP Section = Intellectual Property Section
GI = Geographical Indication
PP = Plant Protection
GAPs= Good Agriculture Practices
AFTA= ASEA Free Trade Agreement