Foreign demand lifts elephant foot yam prices this harvest season

With steady demand from markets in China and Japan, elephant foot yams are fetching higher prices in the current harvest season than during the year-ago period, according to traders.

The prices of fresh elephant foot yams produced from Chin State ranged from K600-1,000 per viss (1.6 kg) in the Mandalay market last year. This year, the opening price has reached K1,000-1,800 per viss, while dried yams are fetching K9,000-12,000 per viss. The price of fresh yams has gone up by K300-600 per viss, depending on the quality.

Yams produced in Chin State are getting a higher price than those from other regions as they have better quality and taste, said traders.

Myanmar’s elephant foot yams are primarily purchased by China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Japan offers higher prices than China for yams.

There are currently seven factories for drying elephant foot yams in Myanmar. Additionally, two more elephant foot yam drying factories, with a production capacity of 30 tons per day, are being constructed in Mon State, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Elephant foot yam production has become a lucrative business. Therefore, value-adding technology is crucial for boosting elephant foot yam production and expanding its market, according to the Myanmar Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Producer and Exporter Association (MFVP).

According to the association, Myanmar is currently exporting only raw yam, and value-added products made from yam will help the market grow in the long term. Myanmar is only producing semi-processed yam at present, it stated.

Elephant foot yams are the main product of Chin State, where they are cultivated on over 8,800 acres of land. Kanpetlet, Mindat, and Matupi townships produce about 1 million viss (a viss is equal to 1.6 kg) of elephant foot yams. The yams are also grown in Northern Chin State.

Elephant foot yams can be planted across the country. Over 13,000 acres of land is under yam cultivation in the current fiscal year. In addition to Chin State, yams are being grown in Kayin, Mon, and Shan states, and Taninthayi and Bago regions.

Myanmar exported 4,200 tons of elephant foot yams in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 1,300 tons in the 2015-2016FY, and 20,000 tons in the 2016-2017FY, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. —GNLM
(Translated by Ei Myat Mon)