Price manipulation suspected in gum karaya market 1

Myanmar Gum Karaya Producers Association(MGKPA) secretary Ko Hein Htet told the Myanmar Times at a gum karaya workshop that there could be some price manipulation involved as prices usually fluctuate between February and April. 

“We can say this is not normal, as every year the prices fluctuate between February and April and then stabilises in October,” he said. While prices have risen to as much as K60,000 this year, from K40,000 in the beginning of the year, it remains depressed from the average price of K80,000 in 2017.

Ko Hein Htet did point out that average prices were higher than last year, which averaged K50,000 per viss. 

While the government and producers have been working on addressing the problem of price instability, stakeholders have said that more needs to be done in terms of quality standards and reaching out to overseas markets.

A possible reason for price manipulation could also be that farmers may have cut down on cultivating the Sterculia trees that produce the gum due to unstable local demand. Less supply could be a cause of speculation and manipulation of prices.

An earlier report noted that of the 19,000 acres in Mandalay Region set aside for cultivating Sterculia trees, only 2,050 acres were found to be cultivated. In Sagaing Region, only 1,400 acres were being cultivated out of 25,000 acres while in Magwe Region, there were only 1,700 acres being cultivated from 20,000 acres. 

MGKPA chairman U Zaw Moe Tun said the industry needed to improve the process of producing the gum in order to sell to overseas markets.

He noted that one of the proposals to address the issues in gum karaya production was the incorporation of a company. “This has not happened as we’re still working out on its duties and mandate,” U Zaw Moe Tun said.

Other proposals involved the use of hormone technology, improving drying techniques for the gum and access to financing for small-and-medium sized firms that want to produce by-products from the gum.