Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
About 7.6 metric tonnes (MT) of ginger belonging to farmers in Samtse is stored in the auction yard of Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) as the export of dzongkhag halted more than a month.
Farmers say there could be 1,000 tonnes of ginger stocks in the villages.
Pemaling gewog ginger grower Rakesh Rai said he left four tonnes of ginger at the FCBL auction yard in Samtse. Pemaling has around 250 tonnes of ginger in stock.
He said that unlike other gewogs that grow areca nuts, farmers in Pemaling depend on ginger sales for more than 70 percent of their annual income. “I’ve heard that Chamarchi officials don’t allow our products to go beyond the door. FCBL can’t help.
This year, the farmers of Samtse also made the effort to calibrate the ginger and could have gotten a better price.
A supplier, Neten Ghalley of United Tshongkhang in the town of Gola, Tashichholing, said farmers and suppliers have started classifying ginger after the awareness by government and local leaders.
“Farmers are bringing soilless ginger this year,” he said, adding that the quality is better than in previous years.
“But the export is not taking place. I have heard that ginger is not on India’s import list.
Although there is a larger market in Siliguri, attended by traders from many parts of India, the people of Chamarchi want the export to go through them and not directly with the Siliguri parties, the suppliers said.
The export of ginger from Phuentsholing is also currently stopped. Kuensel learned that there were around 10 tonnes of ginger in the Phuentsholing FCBL auction yard.
The same old problem
The problems of exporting Bhutanese products began after the introduction of the Indian Goods and Services Tax (IGST) in 2017. With the implementation of the IGST, customs offices in border towns that link trade in Bhutan have installed the computerized system called ICEGATE.
The system requested a quarantine authorization and the Plant Quarantine Services of India did not issue an authorization for Bhutanese agricultural products.
The authorization provided by the Agriculture and Food Authority of Bhutan was not recognized and the export was halted.
Cardamom was the first to be hit hard in July 2017, right after the introduction of IGST. The government then resolved the matter after raising the matter with India.
In October of last year, the export of potatoes was stopped. However, it was resolved and along with potato, areca nut, orange, apple and ginger were also sanctioned for export from Bhutan to India.
But only temporary sanctions were imposed. After the sanction period expired this year, the problem started and the export of potatoes was again interrupted in Jaigaon. However, on June 28, India allowed the import of potatoes from Bhutan until June 30, 2022.
Bhutan had submitted seven other products (chili, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, peas and soybeans) to the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) in India for import approval.
Today, approval of the cabbage has become critical as tons of cabbage are waiting to be exported. If they are not exported on time, it will be the farmers who will be the recipients, because the cabbages rot quickly. The same is the case with ginger and areca nuts.
Samtse has not yet exported 103 tonnes of areca nuts. It has now been over two months.
A press release from the Indian Embassy in Thimphu said the Embassy yesterday hosted a virtual bilateral trade meeting to facilitate Bhutan’s exports of key agricultural products to India.
Emphasis was placed on including seven crops in the Indian Order of Plant Quarantine to enable their export to India.
The meeting also discussed Bhutan’s exemption from the condition of minimum import price policy on areca nut, exemption from import restrictions on ginger, deployment of a new agent plant quarantine at the land customs post in Jaigaon on the Indo-Bhutanese border to facilitate exports of agricultural products from Bhutan. in India.
Representatives from the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture of Bhutan and India also attended the meeting, in which officials from Bhutan shared concerns raised by farmers and traders facing obstacles during the transition to the formal sector and requested to grant an exemption to Bhutan for the current export season.
The press release says Indian officials have agreed to give the applications a favorable consideration and expedite the approval process in view of the exceptionally close and friendly relationship between India and Bhutan.
He said India had provided the fullest cooperation and support to Bhutan to ensure uninterrupted movement of commodities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our close trade and economic ties are a reflection of the special bonds of trust and understanding between India and Bhutan that have existed for decades.”
Edited by Tashi Dema