The government has announced that it would buy back the unsold stock of cardamom that farmers have been unable to sell and export.
Given the issues with its export and the desperation of farmers, this move from the government could come as a relief to many. The scheme however, comes with conditions and gives little time, three days, to the 15 dzongkhags to inform the farmers on the announcement and submit a list to the agriculture ministry.
The move is appreciated but the haste with which it is being implemented shows a half-hearted will to help. When there are agencies within the ministry that were unaware of the buy back notification the ministry issued, reaching out to farmers across 15 dzongkhags may prove to be an uphill task. Unless it is meant to challenge our local government administrations in implementing decisions with a swiftness and efficiency that is foreign to us, this intervention could likely leave out many farmers from selling their stock of the spice.
And this is not what we would want.
For triggered by the recent reports of cardamom export coming to a complete halt in Phuentsholing, the intervention is an interim measure to cushion the impact of customs issues on the farmers. The sustainability of such measures is a non-issue, at least for now.
Today, the agriculture ministry is stepping in to buy the unsold stock of cardamom from farmers with claims that it is exploring means to export the spice. While the issue with exporting cardamom may be different when executed at a government level, the problem with customs for those on the ground remains.
The issue of cardamom export being affected is not a recent development. Its impact was felt since the implementation of GST last July. After citing the non- recognition of BAFRA certification for the hassles, the blame is now on the exclusion of four exit points in the systems of the Indian customs. According to BAFRA, it received information on November 16 from the Bhutan Embassy in New Delhi, that the Indian government had issued a notification on the issue. Almost a month after, BAFRA is yet to receive a copy of the notification.
Given the pace of receiving and issuing notifications, the agriculture ministry’s decision to buy back cardamom from farmers and save them from suffering losses is reassuring. The move may buy us some time but shifting the problem from the farmers to the ministry does not resolve the issue.