Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. aim to develop what it says could be the largest plantation in the south-east Asian country which it is hoped could transform the currently tepid coffee industry.
Burma is well placed to become a leading nation when it comes to coffee production. Geographically advantageous, Burma’s potential reach that of neighbouring Vietnam who, in 2012, grew around 1.3m tons of coffee. Burma managed just 8,000 tons, with just fewer than 100 tons being exported to lucrative foreign markets.
Led by chairman Serge Pun, the Burma-centric property conglomerate stated that it signed a deal to establish a joint venture with ED&F Man, a global trader in the agricultural sector.
Yoma will hold an 85% stake which it is believed to require around $20m (£12m, €14.4m) of investment in over the next couple of years.
The stated target is to utilise 3,700 acres of land for the purpose of coffee production, with Robusta being the type of coffee grown on the plantations in the Ayeyarwaddy division of Burma.
“We think this will probably become the biggest coffee plantation in the country, and could start a new trend of coffee” said Andrew Rickards, the chief executive officer of Yoma. “The main thrust,” of the venture he revealed “is likely to be exports.”
The company declined to give away any specific details on the plantations production target, but it was hinted that a yield of one ton per acre per year would be an early reference point.
Yoma already have a few business interests in Burma, holding a substantial property portfolio in the country in addition to owning and operating a department store, a car service business and a hot air balloon tour operator. The move into coffee could – perhaps should – be a lucrative one and the shift is seen as a purposeful decision in order to expand their non-property income in a frontier economy.
source: World Coffee Press