About five metric tonnes (MT) of areca nut (doma) stuck in Tading due to lockdown in Samtse has been exported via Phuentsholing route on May 21. 

After the lockdown on May 13, suppliers were worried if they would be able to export as their stocks were rotting. They are now relieved.

A truckload of doma was taken to Mini Dry Port in Phuentsholing from where it would be transshipped across the border. The load was transported from Tading completing all mandatory Covid-19 protocols.

One of the suppliers, Yam Bahadur Ghalley said although the produce had shrunk, it was still worth exporting. 

“We got the right buyer in Phuentsholing,” he said. “We would like to thank all the agencies who helped us.” 

Supplier Madan Tamang said the help came at the right time. “Gewog agriculture officer and the gup helped us.”

The suppliers also said that Tengye Lyonpo (economic affairs minister) Loknath Sharma called them and helped. About five metric tonnes of doma was exported.

After the lockdown, Samtse dzongkhag taskforce also notified the export of ginger, areca nut and other cash crops stocked at FCBL depot and from gewogs not falling within the complete lockdown areas would be facilitated from May 17—subject to concurrence by the West Bengal government. 

However, with lockdown across the border and other factors, Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd couldn’t facilitate export. Several truckloads of doma, which FCBL facilitated on May 12 across Chamarchi also had come across some problems. 

There is no buy-back scheme for doma.

Meanwhile, Tengye Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said he was in touch with other suppliers from Tempaling village of Tading. There are two truckloads and export arrangements have been made. 

Since Samtse produces almost half of the country’s doma, lyonpo said he has been exploring different ways of doma business since the pandemic started.

“Although people preferred selling green doma, curing was something they never tried,” Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said. “So I was initiating this plan and got two individuals interested.”

Through the help of Samtse dzongkhag, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said he supported them in getting land at Dhamdum Industrial Park. They also got a loan from NCGS. 

“They are already working.”

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma also said suppliers and farmers can directly supply doma to the curing project at Dhamdum.  

The minister said value-addition is the ultimate business aspect in terms of cash crops such as doma.

“I have also activated a dedicated person to study the overall business aspects from doma,” he said. 

By Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing