Licensing requirement implemented this year

Nima | Gelephu

Almost all gewogs in Sarpang have transitioned to green zones, helping the dzongkhag to export betel nut, the widely grown cash crops for the farmers in the dzongkhag.

Sarpang is in the process of lifting the lockdown restrictions and the core Gelephu town is designated as yellow zones. However, the export of betel nut is in full swing with almost 50 percent of the production completed to date.

The dzongkhag exported over 1,600 metric tonnes of betel nut to Assam, India. There are over 40 exporters involved in the trade, according to the officials from Regional Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives (RAMCO) in Gelephu.

Almost 50 percent of doma export complete

The marketing officer with RAMCO, Dawa Dakpa, said 80 percent of betel nut produced in Sarpang depends on export for the market. “The betel nuts are mostly sold to Assam, India. If we fail to export it would be difficult for the farmers,” he said.

He added that the price for the betel nut was better this time: farmers fetched Nu 4,500 per 100 kilograms of betel nut approximately.

“We are trying to improve the domestic market in case the export fails in future. There are consumers within the country going by the import of betel nut products,” said Dawa Dakpa.

RAMCO helped set up processing units across the country.  

There are doma-processing units in Chuzergang, Sershong, and Singye gewogs, according to the official.

Chuzergang Gup Karma Tshering said the farmers could export betel nut despite the risk of dzongkhag imposing lockdown restrictions. “Almost 50 percent of domas were sold. We would be able to sell all in two weeks,” he said.

The export was conducted with strict compliance to protocols provided by the dzongkhag task force. The gewog administration, dzongkhag agriculture sector, and RAMCO are implementing the trade.

Exporter Phurpa Wangdi said the export was the only opportunity for the farmers to earn cash in the year.

“There was not much of a problem for exporters and farmers but drivers faced a tough time. They have to stay in the trucks almost for the whole day to avoid contacts,” he said.

Licence requirement implemented

Meanwhile, exporters were required to produce a licence to export betel nut this year. There was no licensing requirement in the past. This is expected to help generate some revenue for the government.

Officials from RAMCO said anyone with a citizenship identity card could export. The betel nut export is allowed for anyone with a business license.

Sarpang is expected to export over 3,000 metric tonnes of betel nut this year. However, 30 percent of the exported betel nut would be imported annually, according to RAMCO officials.

Gelephu imports Doma Musa worth approximately Nu 1.4 million every month.