Some exporters say that the government should prioritise businesses rather than pilgrims

Trade: While poor cardamom yield disappointed farmers in Dagana and Tsirang this year, the expectations of orange growers were exceeded as orange production almost doubled.

However, orange exporters are now being affected by the demonitisation of high denomination INR notes in India.

An exporter based in Gelephu, Kinley Penjor said that because of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes in India, they are being charged high rates for boxes to pack their oranges in. Transporters are also demanding extra charges if paid in Ngultrum.

Kinley Penjor from Jabana in Paro has been exporting oranges for the past decade. He said the yield and quality of the oranges this year are high but that the demonitisation is affecting the business.

“The good and bad always come together as in the past years,” he said. “The business was affected by the INR shortage and in the past two years, production wasn’t good,” he added. “And this year it’s the demonitisation.”

Kinley Penjor has so far exported 35 truckloads of oranges to Bangladesh.

Another exporter, who wished not to be named, said that the exporters have to pay “miscellaneous” and “other unofficial bills” in Indian currency.

“They demand double of what we are paying, if in Ngultrum,” he said.

As an interim measure, he said the exporters have arranged with the transporters to pay in Ngultrum with the assurance that they will be paid in INR once it is available.

Exporters from the Gelephu orange depot have been paying Nu 19,000 per truck to transport oranges till the Bangladesh border. But this year transporters are demanding more than Nu 20,000 per truck.

He pointed out that the government has been providing INR to those Bhutanese going for pilgrimage in Bodhgaya. He said the preference instead should be for exporters, since exporters are contributing to the economic development of our country.

“Exporting the produce of our country and contributing to our economy is more important than people going for pilgrimage, so the government should give extra thoughts,” an exporter, who wished not be named, said

The big oranges (meel) are fetching Nu 820 per box and the small oranges (keel) Nu 630 per box.

Export of oranges started in November and lasts till February next year.

While production and quality of oranges is high this year, the demonitisation process has affected the business 

Yeshey Dema | Dagana