Attributed to urbanisation
Exports: More than half of the apples produced in the country are exported and yet Bhutanese apples constitute only 3.55 percent of the total apple market in India and just 1.22 percent in Bangladesh.
This is on an average between 2008 and 2012.
The findings are according to an export market analysis on apples conducted by the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) to validate whether the production is on decline as reported by the Bhutan Exporters’ Association (BEA).
The study found that the shares of import market held by Bhutanese apples in both India and Bangladesh are erratic and low.
One of the possible reasons, the report states could be because of rapid loss of orchards to growing urbanisation.
Although the average yield is almost the same, the number of fruit bearing trees in 2015 fell to about a third of total bearing trees in 2010. “There is a gradual decline in production over the last four years,” the report states.
Bhutan exported a yearly average of 66 percent of its production between 2013-2015.
One of the main reasons for the declining exports in terms of absolute volume is due to falling production.
The study also highlighted India, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand as the major competitors in the market.
China has increased its export to India from 21,836.93 metric tonnes (MT) in 2008 to 29,831.83MT in 2015. For Bangladesh, China more than tripled its apple exports from 42,310.21MT in 2008 to 129,127.56MT during the same period.
As for Bhutan, the figures with the BEA do not match with that of the ones reflected in the Bhutan Trade Statistics.
For instance, the country exported 18,540MT of apples to Bangladesh between 2005 and 2015. Exports to India stood at 19,202MT. This is as per the figures from BEA.
However, the trade statistic revealed that export to Bangladesh was 17,820.35MT and 15513.8MT to India.
The BEA figures showed no export in 2013 while trade statistics showed 2,998MT.
Much of the discrepancy, according to the study is because exports to India need not go through exporters registered with BEA and the records of BEA reflect only the exports of their registered members.
In order to ensure adequate supply, the department recommended a comprehensive production support programme for expansion or replacement of orchards by leasing land, extending loan facilities for plantation, adequate pest and disease control measures.
Although value chain studies have been conducted in the past, the department was of the view that those studies need to be updated.
“With both India and Bangladesh as members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the markets are free and open. As a result, the floodgates are open, and many countries are now competing for exporting their products to these markets,” the study stated.
To remain competitive, frequent competitor analysis and framing necessary export strategies are recommended.