Jun 1, 2011

Ginger Traders: demand from Indian and German buyers outstrips supply

International buyers are salivating over Myanmar’s spicy ginger crop, according to traders who say prices have doubled year-on-year.

Demand is so great from Indian and German buyers, amongst others, that ginger growers here simply can’t supply enough of the fragrant root, traders said last week.

Botahtaung township-based ginger exporter, U Soe Myint, said he only has enough ginger to fill four shipping containers (about 30 tonnes each) but German buyers alone have placed orders for 10 containers.

“Although we have a lot of interested buyers in India and Germany, we can’t buy enough here from growers,” he said, adding that he is only able to buy about half as much this year as in previous years because this year’s harvest was poor.

U Soe Myint said in 2009 and 2010 he was able to export up to 50 containers of dried ginger, or about 5 million viss (1 viss equals 1.6 kilograms or 3.6 pounds).

A ginger wholesaler based at the Bayintnaung Wholesale Commodity Exchange Centre said wet ginger prices have doubled this year to K800-1000 a viss, up from about K450 last year, while dried ginger is about K2350 (1 viss of dried ginger requires about 4 viss of wet ginger) this month, compared with K1200-1600 in May last year, he said.

“The wet ginger price was only about K100 a viss in 2004-2005 but last year it just skyrocketed because of foreign demand,” he said.

About 8000 tonnes of ginger were exported in the 2008-2009 financial year, earning about US$900,000. That grew to 9200 tonnes worth $1.4 million in 2009-10 and 9900 tonnes that earned $2 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, Ministry of Commerce statistics show.

“Ginger is not a major export item like rubber or beans and pulses and international demand for it is not regular. Additionally, our exporters and producers are not directly linked, which means neither party makes as much profit as they could,” said a Ministry of Commerce official.

About 17,000 acres of ginger is grown around the country, with 7000 acres planted in Shan State, the official said. He added that about 70,000 tonnes of the root is harvested yearly, with about 30,000 tonnes consumed locally. The majority of the surplus is exported either dried or wet.

India and China also produce large crops but both countries also buy from Myanmar because the price is about US$300-400 a tonne lower than the international price, the official said. Exporters sell dried ginger for between $1450-1600 a tonne (612 viss) and $300-400 for wet ginger, he added.

Ginger grown in Sittwe is exported to Bangladesh; while ginger transported to Yangon is exported to Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore; ginger grown near Mandalay is exported to China via the 105-mile border checkpoint at Muse in Shan State.

Source: Myanmar Times