Myanmar’s coffee bean segment is experiencing robust growth as it attracts interests from both domestic as well as foreign markets.
U Min Hlaing, Secretary of the Myanmar Coffee Association, said demand for Myanmar coffee has surged in recent years and it is now being exported to more than a dozen Asian and Western countries. “Coffee exports are set to double from last year,” he said.
In 2017, over 100 tonnes of the country’s coffee beans were shipped to foreign markets while this year the figure is expected to exceed 200 tonnes, to about 15 foreign countries including the new emerging markets of Canada, Belgium and New Zealand, added U Min Hlaing.
In August 2016, Myanmar exported 2 shipments of coffee beans to the US, the first commercial-scale imports in nearly 2 decades, after Washington lifted its remaining economic sanctions on the country. Since then, the US has become the largest foreign market for Myanmar coffee.
Domestically, coffee consumption has also increased. With growing tourism, Myanmar has also witnessed the opening of more coffee outlets in the past 4 years.
Yet, production and exports of coffee, once a neglected crop, remain small compared to its ASEAN neighbours like Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. “We need to boost coffee production,” Min Hiang said.
Arabica and Robusta, the main coffee varieties, are grown in many locations throughout the country although primarily in highland areas in Shan, Kachin, Kayah and Chin states as well as in Mandalay Division. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation hopes to increase coffee acreage from the existing 50,000 acres of coffee plantations which churn out 7,000 tonnes of coffee bean a year.
At present, coffee growers in Myanmar need support from the government in the form of loans and better technology as well as measures to boost quality control and demand to support sustainable growth.
The potential for coffee, for both domestic and export markets, is huge in this country.