The halt in cardamom export to India has now been lifted, Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said at the national assembly yesterday.

He said that about two days ago the exit gates had allowed export of cardamom from Bhutan to India.

From Jitey in Samtse about 1,550kg of cardamom and about 8,000kg from Hathisar in Gelephu were exported since the halt lifted, he said.

“Jaigoan in Phuentsholing and Darranga in SamdrupJongkhar are in process of implementing this finalised decision. We are happy to inform that there is no issue in exporting cardamom.”

Export of cardamom had been affected since the Indian Goods and Services Tax (GST) commenced on July 1, 2017.

The halt was due to the failure to include the four exit points (Jaigoan in Phuentsholing, Chamurchi in Samtse, Hathisar/ Dathgirir in Gelephu, and Darranga in Samdrupjongkhar) from Bhutan to India as points of entry for import of plants and plant materials.

As a temporary measure, the ministry started buyback scheme. Cardamoms were bought from the farmers at Nu 550, which is inclusive of the profit and farmer’s expenditure.

Tashichhoeling MP Dil Maya Rai said that the government’s notification to buyback the cardamom issued on December 10 was not implemented.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the government bought 17 metric tonnes (MT) of cardamom through the buyback scheme before the exit points opened recently.

He added that after talking with about 2,020 cardamom growers, the government decided to buyback another 282MT of cardamom. “However, after the gates opened for the export, the people who registered to sell 282MT of cardamom chose to sell their products to India and backed off. It was the people’s choice.”

Today, the agriculture ministry is working towards setting up a buyback programme that would not only deal with cardamom but also buy all agriculture products if any issues arise in the future.

Agriculture minister said that the idea was to keep farmer’s continuous interest in farming and help the farmers across the country.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that it would take time for the scheme to come into effect as place identification to store the products and other activities had to be done. “But this won’t be an issue for cardamom as the export to India has been approved.”

Phurpa Lhamo