A boy smiles at the camera at one of the
stalls on Inya Road in Yangon.
MYANMAR produces a rich variety of fruits and vegetables, a sector
of the agricultural industry which stands to gain from a growing
awareness of the benefits of eating fresh produce.
As well as tropical fruit such as mangoes, papaya, durian, bananas,
custard apples and pineapples, Myanmar produces many different
types of introduced fruit and vegetables. The uplands around Pyin
Oo Lwin are renowned for their strawberries, avocados are produced
in the Inle Lake region, table grapes around Meiktila and tomatoes
in the highlands of Shan State, where cabbages and potatoes are
In Yangon, the biggest wholesale and retail centre for fruit
and vegetables is Thirimingalar market in Ahlone township, which
features produce from throughout the country, though much of it
comes from Ayeyarwady and Bago divisions.
Competitive prices attract throngs of customers to the bustling
market on the Yangon River, where many growers sell their produce
directly to consumers.
Daw San Yu regularly makes the journey from Yankin township to
shop at the market for her family. “This is a one-stop market
for fruit and vegetables in Yangon and all the fruit and vegetables
here are fresh and cheap,” she said.
An impressive range of fresh produce is available at the market.
Ko Kyaw Thu, who runs a wholesale and retail business there, sells
domestically-grown and imported produce.
“At this time of the year we have potatoes, tomatoes,
cabbages, carrots, green mangoes, cauliflower, baby corn, beans,
peas, chilies, lady fingers (okra), celery, leeks, cucumbers and
more,” he said, adding that most customers were vendors
who either have businesses at other markets or sell at roadside
stalls, such as the one of Inya Road.
The owner of a stall on 40th Street provides a typical example.
“I sell mushrooms, carrots, cabbages, beans, peas, cauliflower,
baby corn, and lady fingers,” he said. “I buy mainly
from Thirimingalar market and sell from my stall in the evening;
most of my regular customers are office workers.”
Some of the best quality locally-grown and imported fruit and
vegetables can be found at the cluster of stalls on Inya Road.
Produce available at the stalls includes apples, oranges, honeydew
melons, strawberries, blueberries, plums and pomeloes, as well
as tropical fruit.
Most of the customers at the Inya Road outlets are well-to-do
Myanmar or foreigners.
It is not just the tastes, textures, flavours and even aromas
of fruit and vegetables which appeals to many consumers; health
benefits are also a factor.
“Fruit and vegetables will keep you healthy and fight
off the ageing process and should be eaten every day,” said
nutritionist Dr Sithu, who has a clinic on 46th Street in downtown
“The benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are endless
and include a reduced risk of contracting some types of cancer,
reduced cholesterol levels, a strengthened immune system, and
strong bones and teeth,” he said.
Ko Zaw Zaw, a first-year student at the Institute of Medicine
(1) in downtown Yangon, said he increased his intake of fruit
and vegetables on the advice of his family doctor, who said it
would have a positive effect on his brain function.
“If you want to stimulate your brain function you should
eat a lot of fresh fruit and carrots,” he said.
For Ma Zarchi, a beautician in Bahan township, the key to good
health is to eat fresh produce of different colours.
“Eating fruit and vegetables of different colours has
a range of benefits, including an increased intake of fibre (which
is beneficial for the digestive system) as well as nutrients such
as potassium and vitamins A and C,” she said.
For Daw Khin Hla, 75, of Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, the
benefits of fruit and vegetables are obvious.
“When I was 40 I became a vegetarian and I feel as fit
and healthy as ever,” she said.