Nu 685mn worth of vegetables exported to India

Bhutan exported about 35,852 MT of vegetables to India as of November 2021

Despite having issues that need to be fulfilled while exporting vegetables to India, Bhutan exported Nu 685mn worth of vegetables to India, according to the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC).

Bhutan exported about 35,852 MT of vegetables to India as of November 2021.

Agriculture and Forests Minister Yeshey Penjor said that export is ongoing and it must be done more as long as there are buyers across the borders.

“Export challenges are more with cabbage, potato, ginger, and areca nuts, among others, but we also have crops like apple, oranges, and asparagus that can be exported without such issues,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that the export of vegetables will depend on the situation across the borders. If there are buyers across the borders, we must elevate exports for our farmers. It is important to keep this export channel proper and streamlined.

“Vegetable export has decreased this year, but it is not due to export challenges we faced during exporting, but it is also because of the increase in internal consumption,” Lyonpo said.

According to the DAMC, vegetable exports to India have been recorded at Nu 715mn and Nu 23.1mn to COTI (Countries Other than India) last year despite the Covid situation and border roads closure.

However, the DAMC exported 18 commodities as of now excluding oranges. Orange export is still going on and the value will be added later, according to the Chief Marketing Officer, Dawa Tshering.

Out of the 18 commodities, Bhutan exported around 30,915MT of potatoes to India, which is worth Nu 425mn. It is one of the highest exported commodities this year. It is then followed by cabbage, ginger, and carrots which are worth Nu 28.6mn, Nu 16.3mn, and Nu 7.36mn respectively.

According to the DAMC, apple exports increased compared to last year. The department has exported 806MT of apples which is worth Nu 19,6mn.

“Apple fruit is good this year compared to last year and we don’t face many challenges while exporting apples,” Agriculture and Forests Minister Yeshey Penjor said.

However, the government will stick to formal trade which requires documentation and adherence to domestic laws and regulations after the border roads open, but if the people insist on informal trade, it is up to the people to do business. 

“A majority of these vegetable exports have been informal including cash crops like areca nuts, cardamom, ginger, and oranges. This is why illegal import keeps happening by our vendors at the borders,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that before the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the vegetable exports were informal where vegetables were sold easily at good rates. But the new taxation hampers all this informal trade.

Meanwhile, the minister shared that importers in India need an import license, and those vegetables being imported need to be notified under the Plant Quarantine Order (PQO) of India for which a Pest Risk Analysis needs to be conducted.

“There are also other import conditions that need to be fulfilled while importing vegetables into India such as sanitary and phytosanitary conditions, volume restrictions, minimum import price, etc,” Lyonpo said, adding that the importers there aren’t aware of such requirements and in particular importers in the bordering areas.

“In terms of vegetables, we export most to India but currently due to additional requirements like PRA, PQ, and other restrictions, there has been a disturbance to export cabbage, carrot, and even ginger,” he added.

Kinley Ynonten from Thimphu