The orange export this season is not only doing good business in Phuentsholing, but it is also expected to end early this time.
The orange export season is estimated to last till January or the first week of February. However, in the past years, the season lasted till February end or March.
The exporters believe that lower yields at the orchards could be the prime reason for the early closure.
Additionally, the opening of depots at Gelephu, SamdrupJongkhar and Nganglam has diverted oranges to these depots. As most of the oranges come from central region, the oranges have gone to other depots rather than coming to Phuentsholing.
“It’s economically better for the farmers to reach to Gelephu or Nganglam than travelling to Phuentsholing,” an exporter in Phuentsholing said.
Also, the exporters say that the yield in the farms has decreased annually.
“Not much comes from Phuentsholing area and all the exporters depend on the supply from central and eastern region. Exporters earlier used to send up to five truckloads per day. But today, they can afford to export a truckload in two days sometimes,” the manager of Kuenzang Export, Penjor, said.
He added the size of the oranges has also decreased compared to a decade ago.
“We don’t know the exact reason, but the orange export business is gradually falling,” he said.
Meanwhile, SonamThuendrel Export has closed its orange depot for this year. They have exported 16 truckloads of orange this season. Earlier they used to export more than 100 truckloads in a season.
Its proprietor, SonamTobgay said they could only afford to pay the laborers from this season’s earnings.
“There’s no orange from the orchard. The season is short lived,” he added.
Despite a short season, orange exporters, meanwhile, are happy with what they have been able to export so far.
The price this year has increased by USD 2 this year. Meel orange fetches USD 15 and Keel is sold at USD 12. Last year, the prices were USD 14 and USD 11 respectively.
According to the exporters, the recent strikes in India have not hampered export. They could export with the help from BAFRA and the Regional Revenue and Customs Department. They have facilitated smooth movement of the product.
However, earnings from the oranges are expected to drop this time as compared to the previous years. Last year had been worse with a low yield.
Bibeek Export’s proprietor, IndraBdrPowdyal, said he had nothing to export last year despite being in this business for ten years now.
“This year the season could last till January in Phuentsholing. In the past years, it could last till March first week. Only up to 15 truckloads go to Bangladesh from Phuentsholing daily. There used to be around 20 depots, but there are only eight this year. These depots used to export five truckloads daily,” he said.
And while the yield has doubled this year compared to the previous year, the future of orange business, however, looks bleak with better products from other countries.
“Bhutanese orange being organic has separate value, but the prices of oranges from other countries like India and China, which are hitting the Bangladeshi market, are expected to beat Bhutanese oranges. Despite having tax, these products are cheaper for them to buy. So they can go for it,” Arjun Pradhan, the manager of Manu Export in Phuentsholing said. The exporter has sent 30 truckloads of orange till now.
Meanwhile, orange yields have been good till 2014 and it started decreasing gradually. The year 2015 has been the worst orange season till now.
More than 3,000 metric tons of orange have been exported till mid January this season.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuenstholing