Food price inflation and lower tungsten prices impacting food security in Mawchi region

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Prices for basic food items have dramatically increased in the Mawchi region of Hpasawng Township in Karenni state. The rapid food price inflation has left local people facing difficulties for their daily survival.

A local man said that the prices of basic food commodities have nearly tripled in the Mawchi region recently due to the vehicle road being blocked. With the main road into the Mawchi region being blocked the transportation of food products has been disrupted. As a consequence, the cost of food products has increases across the 11 villages in the Mawchi region.

“When the vehicle road is closed, the cost of food products in Mawchi increases. Usually when the price goes up, it won’t go down again. Even when the vehicle road opens again, the price of food usually does not go down to previous levels. The cost of food products keeps going up and up here,” the local man told Kantarawaddy Times.

The local man said that the vehicle road has been blocked because of a military standoff in the area. Those who are traveling on the road have to spend more days for their travel because of the blockages. A one-trip may now take two-days. This is why the cost of food products has been increasing in Mawchi.

Since February, people have not been able to travel on the Loikaw–Demoso–DorTamagyi–Bawlakhe vehicle road because of the presence of military in the area.

In Mawchi region, local people mainly depend on income from tungsten extraction for their livelihood. The recent decline in the global price of tungsten from highs in late 2022 is another economic pressure point for local people. At the local level in the Mawchi region the tungsten price has recently dropped from 65,000 Kyat to 45,000 Kyat per 1.6 kilograms.

“Even though the price of tungsten has really dropped recently, a bag of rice now costs much more, around 200,000-250,000 Kyat. It is really hard for us to buy enough food to eat,” a local man told Kantarawaddy Times.

Regularly people in Mawchi report that they are facing serious difficulties earning enough income to meet their daily needs.

“Tungsten production is not going well. For working class people, we are facing so many difficulties. Sometimes we want to sell our tungsten but nobody comes to buy it. Sometimes we do not have any money in our hands. We are daily wage workers. The cost of food is going up every day. We can no longer balance our shrinking incomes and with our growing expenditures,” another Mawchi resident told Kantarawaddy Times.

The biggest tungsten deposits in Myanmar are found in the Mawchi region of Hpasawng Township in Karenni State.

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