Tea prices remain stagnant for several years in the market

08 November 2018

Tea growers and businesses are whimpering that tea prices remain stable for several years though prices for other food and commodity rise over time.

People in Myanmar consume tea in various forms as in Indian style tea with condensed milk and sugar to the unique style of serving the pickled tea leaves salad with fried beans,garlic,sesame, to Chinese style tea.

Tea in its various forms of serving largely contributes to the almost daily consumption along with the main meals of the day and Myanmar people proudly maintain the culture for a long time.

Recently, efforts have been exerted to expand the tea sales to the international market, especially Germany and US with the technical support from organizations like GIZ Myanmar.

Despite the efforts to expand, the stagnant prices of tea force the farmers to abandon their plantations and business.

U Man Yan Naing, tea grower from Kyaukme, a town in Northern Shan state shared that challenges they are facing.

“The weather is unpredictable and so flood and heavy rain caused the landslides. The landslides make the transportation and logistics for tea challenging. Because heavy rain, trees fall and landslides occur. And tea prices are not that much different from previous years, we used to get 1000 kyats for one viss of green tea leaves previous several years. It has been stable. Also in this year, we got only 1100 kyats or 1200 kyats for this season. So it’s not big of an increase. But while the price for other commodities like rice, oil and salt go up, our tea price remains stagnant. So we, tea growers take risk and go to work in China and Thailand. Life improves for some and some save money working in China and Thailand and come back to start the tea business again in Shan state. So what I mean is… as the tea prices don’t rise up, we are now trying to adopt the new technology to improve growing, production, and exporting with the technical support from NGOs.”

German Agency for International Cooperation or (GIZ), is one of the organizations, supporting with technical training for Myanmar tea to rise up again to penetrate the international market.

Daw Nyo Nyo Sein, chair of the Myanmar Tea Association explained, “Our Myanmar tea is organic and it contains very little chemical. So Myanmar tea is in good demand for the organic tea market. In domestic market, people don’t go for the organic produce that much. So international purchasers have eyes on Myanmar tea. Now, Germany and U.S. are importing Myanmar tea increasingly. It has been 3 years we have been exporting to those countries since 2016. Now a shop from US has offered to buy 1000 tons of sweet dried leaves. And also we have buyer from Germany.”

In comparison to other Asian market, our tea price is much higher. But some of their tea don’t taste as good as our tea. But they can produce a lot. Very powerful production capacity and low price. So despite good quality, our tea does not do that well in the market for that reason.”

More tea growers and businesses in Myanmar are learning to adopt the new modern technology from Germany and Japan to improve the production, hygiene and other crucial quality factors.

Arker Kyaw