Feature: China-funded project brings hope to coffee farmers in Myanmar

YANGON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- In southeastern Myanmar's Kayin State, Naw Elizabeth Chaw is optimistic about the future after learning how to process quality coffee.

She kept studying processing technology for coffee production after attending a training conducted by the country's agriculture department as part of China's Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund coffee project in Myanmar.

"We previously cultivated and produced coffee in traditional ways. Now, I came to know how to grow, process and produce quality coffee for export," Naw said.

Myanmar's agriculture department, implementing the LMC special fund coffee project, has conducted trainings and distributed agricultural equipment for coffee farmers in the country.

The two-year coffee project, which started in August last year and is planned to complete in December next year, was being implemented with the approved budget of 440,000 U.S. dollars from China's LMC special fund.

As part of the project, 16 acres of pilot farms of coffee were being established in Mandalay and Magway regions and Chin and Shan states.

The department's director of Coffee and Seasonal Crops Division Myint Swe, who is supervising the project, told Xinhua, "As coffee is a high-value crop, we are making efforts to improve coffee production and quality so that it becomes our main export crop."

Khun Myo Nyunt, one of the coffee farmers from eastern Myanmar's Shan State, is keen to expand coffee plantations in the region to replace poppy cultivation with coffee farms.

"Most of the farmers in the region were once poppy growers," he told Xinhua, saying the LMC special fund coffee project would help facilitate the eradication of poppy cultivation.

"My neighbor coffee farmers and I received earth augers, pruning tools, refractometers and moisture meters," Khun said, adding that the farming equipment are very useful.

To date, there are more than 90 China-financed LMC special fund projects in Myanmar including the coffee project.

At present, there are some 50,000 acres of coffee plantations in Myanmar, about 38,000 acres of which are Arabica, and about 12,000 acres are Robusta.

The Southeast Asian country produces over 9,000 tons of coffee yearly and is exporting its Arabica coffee to the global market, according to the agriculture department.

"After attending the coffee processing technology training, I'm eager to grow and produce coffee using the technology," Zir Than Hnuni, a coffee farmer from western Myanmar's Chin State, told Xinhua.

"I'm from Rih that has a heart-shaped Rih Lake. We are establishing a five-acre collective coffee farm near the lake, planning to operate a coffee shop that will attract tourists in post-COVID period," Zir said.

"We also received earth augers and pruning tools," she said, adding that they are solving the labor shortage problem in this coffee growing season with the equipment.

Under the project, the agriculture department conducted trainings for 1,736 coffee farmers for processing technology and provided them with agricultural equipment.

The project's objectives are to upgrade the processing technology and high export quality coffee production to achieve the competitive advantage in the international market, and to improve the income and livelihood of coffee farmers, the department said.

"I'm grateful to China for supporting Myanmar's coffee production sector with the LMC special fund project," Myint Swe said.

Editor: Su Dan
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