Govt. exported around 6,568MT of agricultural produce to India and Bangladesh and is importing only onion and tomato as of now
Bhutan’s export and import business has been among the worst hit by the ongoing pandemic, especially in the first four months of the current financial year. But amidst this gloom, the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DoAMC) has something to celebrate about: its export of agriculture produce has actually increased.
According to DoAMC, around 6,568.82 MT of agriculture produce worth Nu 225mn was exported to India and Bangladesh last month.
The biggest export occurred via Gelephu. Over 2,889 MT of vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, bean, beetroot, radish, cardamom, ginger and areca nut worth over Nu 106mn were exported. The major exports were spices such as cardamom and ginger.
Over 2,321MT of potatoes and 44MT of other agricultural produces worth Nu 77mn and Nu 11mn respectively were exported via Phuentsholing. Only potato and ginger were exported via Samdrup Jongkhar during the period.
In terms of value, export via Gelephu increased consistently over time. The value of exports between the first and the last months increased by 78%. On the other hand, export via Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar decreased consistently over time.
The biggest export occurred via Gelephu with over 1,067MT of vegetables including potatoes worth over Nu 36mn. Over 694MT of potatoes and 7MT of ginger worth Nu 21mn and Nu 0.21mn respectively were exported to India and 20MT of cardamom worth Nu 9mn was exported to Bangladesh via Phuentsholing.
Potato was the only commodity exported via Samdrup Jongkhar. Over 133MT of potatoes worth Nu 3mn was exported to India.
According to a DoAMC official, the drastic decline of exports via Phuentsholing is due to issues related to plant quarantine certification of commodities such as potato, ginger, apple and areca nut, bound for Indian markets.
“However, this issue has been addressed and export has resumed,” said a marketing official adding that early October, both potato and ginger were exported via Samdrup Jongkhar, but during the latter part of the month, only potato was available for export.
Export via Gelephu increased mainly due to export disruption via Phuntsholing, wherein potatoes from Phobjikha, Khotakha and Bumthang, which would normally be exported via Phuentsholing were diverted to Gelephu.
According to the DoAMC, export to Bangladesh accounted for less than 9% of the total, the rest went to India. Cardamom was the only commodity exported to Bangladesh. Around 37MT of cardamom worth Nu 19mn was exported to Bangladesh during this month.
“With the onset of cardamom and mandarin export over the next few months, export to Bangladesh is expected to increase precipitously,” said a DoAMC official.
The weekly export of agricultural produce last month, around 1,194.62 MT worth Nu 39mn was exported during the period October 18-24.
While export of potato and ginger via Phuentsholing was expected to pick up, the export to India has been temporarily suspended since October 12 due to some bilateral trade-related issues.
DoAMC officials said that unfortunately, even after the main issue was resolved, certain technicalities which Bhutanese export are not able to fulfill, prevented resumption of potato and ginger export via Phuentsholing.
“Nonetheless, 68MT of produce, other than potato and ginger, worth Nu 5mn was exported via Phuentsholing during this period,” he said.
Additionally, around 1,632.94MT of agriculture produce worth Nu 59mn was exported the following week, which shows the export trend increased by 438MT and export to Bangladesh accounted for 10% of the total. However, compared to the first week of last month, this month’s weekly export of agriculture produce has increased drastically. Around 1,922.88MT of agricultural produce worth Nu 70mn was exported during the first week of this month.
According DoAMC, Bhutan is not importing any vegetables as of now except onion and tomatoes.
Last month, around 120MT of onions and tomatoes were imported in the country. The Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) auction yard in Gelegphu received around 40MT of onions last month.
Similarly, around 80MT of onion and tomatoes were received in Phuentshogling last month.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu