Bhutan – an exception in India’s ban on import of Apples 

Bhutan – an exception in India’s ban on import of Apples 

On May 8, 2023, the Central Government of India imposed a ban on apple imports to India from countries that have a Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) import price equal to or lower than Rs 50 per kilogram as it altered the import policy from “free” to “prohibited.” However, Bhutan does not fall in the list of countries from where India will not be importing apples. 

Indian media, quoting a notification said: “In a notification, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said, ‘Import of apples…is Prohibited’ wherever the CIF Import Price is less than equal to Rs 50/- per kilogram. Minimum Import Price conditions shall not be applicable for imports from Bhutan.” 

Compared to 2022, when India imported apples worth USD 385.1 million, in 2023 apples worth USD 296 million were imported.

The main countries which export apples to India include the US, Iran, Brazil, UAE, Afghanistan, France, Belgium, Chile, Italy, Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa and Poland. Between April and February 2022–2023, imports from South Africa increased by 84.8% to USD 18.53 million.

Similar to this, apple imports from Poland surged by 83.36 percent to USD 15.39 million. But imports from nations like the US, UAE, France, and Afghanistan fell.

“The move assumes significance as apple farmers in Kashmir had called for a ban on the import of Iranian apples and imported apples were depressing the prices of domestic apples,” reported The Economic Times.

Meanwhile in Bhutan, the majority of orchards are concentrated in Thimphu (34%), and Paro. Orchards are abundant in Haa and Bumthang as well.

However, many farmers in other regions of the country grow apple for household consumption. In total there are over 3,000 individual apple growers in Bhutan. Apple orchards range from a few trees to large commercial orchards (> 250 trees). Orchard management is often basic.

Most of the apples produced are exported, primarily to Bangladesh and India. Apples that are turned down for export are sold to Bhutanese fruit processing facilities. Apples are also imported from or through India, typically between January and August when local apples are not available.

Since its introduction in Bhutan in the early 1960s, apples have become an important commercial crop. In terms of production, it is currently second to the citrus fruits(8.032 MT in 2013). Red Delicious, Royal Delicious, and Golden Delicious are the three most widely cultivated kinds. According to Knoema, in 2021, apples yield for Bhutan was 47,136 hectogram (hg) per hectare (ha). Though Bhutan apples yield fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to increase through 1972 – 2021 period ending at 47,136 hg per ha in 2021.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu