Toe Aung Myint, director general of the department of trade promotion, told Myanmar Eleven that exports of mango, dragon fruit, mangosteen, and pomelo to Korea would start in a few months.
“We plan to produce more mango, dragon fruit, mangosteen, and pomelo, and have increased plantation areas for these four fruits,” he said on the sidelines of a seminar on quality-control management of agricultural products.
“We have been raising awareness on measures to improve quality management of Myanmar agricultural products. We are now in active discussion with relevant organisations from Korea,” Toe Aung Myint said.
His ministry is cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation in order to export these four fruits to the East Asia country, where demand has the potential to be huge, he said.
“We need to pass several tests by Korean organisations like the FDA [Food and Drugs Administration] in Myanmar in order to get approval for exporting them. After passing such tests, we can export our products to the Korean market,” Toe Aung Myint said.
He said demand for mango was likely to be highest of the four fruits in Korea. Myanmar’s Sein Ta Lone (diamond) mango has been in high demand in other Asian markets, including China and Singapore.
“It is the most popular mango in Myanmar. Moreover, among thousands of tonnes of mango exported to China, the Sein Ta Lone is the most famous in the market. Given the increasing demand, more and more people grow Sein Ta Lone mangoes all over the country,” Toe Aung Myint added.
“According to the feedback from our exporting countries, our Sein Ta Lone mangoes can compete with mangoes from other countries in terms of taste and pricing. So we hope to export more Sein Ta Lone mangoes not only to the Korean market but also other Asian markets,” he added.
Kim Young-tae, deputy director of the plant quarantine department of Korea’s animal and plant quarantine agency, told the seminar that the four fruits are on the list of goods for review for import to Korea. He explained that agricultural import must pass an eight-step pest risk analysis before they can gain approval to enter the country.
“Myanmar has yet to export its agricultural products to Korea. Among the items they requested to export, mango is in the third stage of the process. The other three items are still on the waiting list,” he said.
Mango imports to South Korea will likely be approved soon, Kim Young-tae said. He said the fruit was quite popular in the country, and that most imports came from the Philippines and Vietnam.
“As some Koreans who have visited Myanmar prefer the taste of Myanmar mangoes, we have decided to allow mango exports from Myanmar as soon as possible,” he added.
Toe Aung Myint noted that awareness-raising efforts are important to exporters as well as farmers as Korea places many restrictions on importing agricultural products. He urged Myanmar to move towards value-added products, noting that exports of value-added products such as rice and beans are increasing every year.
Exporters must be attuned to demand in countries that import, he added. Toe Aung Myint said the focus should be on products that had potential in numerous markets, and that more opportunities are opening for Myanmar products.
“The potential is huge for new trade partners. Most will be European Union member countries. Some EU countries are already providing training to local farmers so that our farm produce will meet their [health and safety] requirements,” he said.
Toe Aung Myint called on exporters to target a range of markets. “No matter how productive a company is, it will be very hard to survive if it cannot sell its products in several markets. As we are implementing a market-oriented economy, products that can meet international standards should go to a variety of markets,” he said.