Myanmar Update October 2021
After the military junta seized control on the 1st of February, it was looking increasingly unlikely that the farmers and producers who we work with in Shan State, Mogok and Mandalay Division would be able to finish picking and processing their coffee or even get it out of the country.
Since the start of the coup, the regime has brutally cracked down on protesters, killing hundreds and detaining thousands. Whilst public sector strikes and other forms of civil disobedience have prevented the regime from consolidating its control, the country has been plunged into deep economic crisis and the healthcare system has collapsed amidst a surge in Covid cases.
The humanitarian situation continues to be dire, with intense clashes and volatile security in many parts of the country. The UN recently stated that nearly 240,000 people have been newly displaced and need humanitarian aid and protection services.
From a purely coffee production perspective, the coup happened right in the middle of the harvest season. Yields ended up being significantly lower in some places due to movement restrictions which led to cherry remaining unpicked – only to be exacerbated by further movement restrictions as a result of the pandemic.
While it has not been possible for us to visit this season, we have kept in very close contact with the producers who we’re lucky to be in partnership with. With all aspects of their daily life impacted by the coup and coronavirus pandemic, everyone has their own story to tell of the events of the past year. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to offer the fruit of their labours to coffee roasters in the UK and across Europe.
Additionally, the global shipping crisis has been a further significant challenge in terms of getting this season’s coffee to the UK. For almost three months, we struggled with finding and securing a booking, as departures from the port of Yangon have decreased from 200 a month to 20, we found our bookings being bumped continuously. Working closely with our producers and, in the end, five separate shipping agents, we were hugely relieved to finally get this coffee to sea recently.
Our new season Myanmar coffees should be available to release from Vollers UK towards the beginning of November 2021. Get in touch to learn more and request samples.