Nima | Gelephu

Areca nut farmers of Gelephu could export their harvest with support from the dzongkhag this week despite the border sealing.

The farmers couldn’t harvest the nuts until this week although trees started flowering. The harvest and the export of areca nut were completed by this time of the year in the past.

The nut, which is consumed with betel leaf, is the main source of income for many farmers in the dzongkhag.

Rinchen Yangzom from Chuzanggang, who has been exporting areca nut to India for the past nine years, had dried nuts worth Nu 900,000.

Many farmers in Chuzergang could not harvest the nuts on time.

“Past two months have been very stressful. We could not harvest the nuts during the flowering season and this will have a huge impact on the next harvest,” said Rinchen Yangzom.

The dzongkhag agriculture sector in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders has come to the rescue of the farmers who depend hugely on areca nut for the cash. The sector facilitates the movement and export of the areca nuts.

The security personnel, medical staff, and customs officials on duty at the gate allow the Indian trucks inside the gate under strict compliance measures.

Over 40MT of areca nuts worth Nu 900,000 were exported since the dzongkhag facilitated the export on May 11. Two more truckloads of areca nuts will be exported today. The dzongkhag expects to export over 600MT of areca nuts in two weeks.

According to the record with the sector, the dzongkhag has over 4,200MT of areca nuts.

Assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer, Chimi Wangchuk, said farmers in 12 gewogs who could not harvest areca nuts earlier have started to harvest now. “The problem is whether the market within the country would be able to absorb the production in future if the export to India stops like today.”

While the dzongkhag has facilitated the export of areca nut to India, the prices of the areca nut have seen a significant drop. Last year, the farmers in the dzongkhag sold areca nut at Nu 4,200 per quintal. This year, the farmers could fetch Nu 3,000 per quintal as the highest price to date.

Rinzin, 18, an exporter from Umling, said that the support was a huge relief for the farmers and exporters. “Usually by this time of the year, the harvest would be completed. But we were helpless this year.”

Sarpang is the largest producer of areca nut in the country. The dzongkhag produced over 4200MT of areca nuts last year.