Export of mandarin has started in Phuentsholing and exporters are expecting a better business this season.

The trade started late giving time for the oranges to ripe and some exporters are still constructing their depots at the Amochhu embankment.

One of the largest export houses, Druk Phuensum Import and Export House (DPIEH), is the first entity to export mandarin this season. The house has exported four trucks of oranges from its depots in Phuentsholing and Gelephu.

Its owner Sonam Tobgay said the production this season would be 50 to 60 percent more compared to that of last year.

“The harvest keeps on fluctuating and this time it would increase as per the information we are getting,” he said.

However, Bhutanese exporters would still face competition with oranges from India in the market.

A majority of the oranges is exported to Bangladesh and this time the floor price has also increased. The price of a meel (bigger box) is USD 15, up from USD 14 in 2017. The keel (smaller box) is revised to USD 12 from USD 11 last year.

Sonam Tobgay said the price does not necessarily go as per the floor price. Sometimes it increases beyond the floor price, while it has decreased at times.

DPIEH exported 300 truckloads of mandarin last year compared to 700 truckloads in 2016. This time the company is targeting to export about 600 trucks.

The proprietor of Pelden Exports (PE), Sangay Penjor said he is worried about the oranges coming from Nagpur, India.

“We hear they had a very good harvest,” he said, adding this Nagpur produce would impact the market and price. “Nagpur oranges are also exported to Bangladesh.”

Sangay Penjor also said that the Bangladesh election in December end this year could have some impact on the orange business this season.

Pelden exported 100 truckloads of oranges last year and 300 truckloads in 2016. The export house is sending its first consignment tomorrow, Sangay Penjor said.

Starting last year, orange exporters started to export late in November in order to give the fruit enough time to ripen.

Meanwhile, construction of orange depots at Amochhu started late this time. Unlike in the past when Phuentsholing thromde used to lease out the lands, exporters were not able to do so as the land were under CDCL and its mega township project.

Constructions were later sanctioned by CDCL, exporters said.

Bhutan exported 4,959 metric tonnes (MT) of mandarin to Bangladesh and India in the 2015-2016 season, a drop by seven times from the 2014-2015 season’s 34,569MT. In the 2016-2017 season, more than 40,000MT was exported.

Report with the Bhutan Exporters Association shows that Bhutan had exported mandarin worth USD 88.9 million from 2001 until 2015.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing