Chimi Dema & Rajesh Rai 

In what came as a relief to ginger growers, the government has initiated a buy-back scheme for the produce.

The buy-back price is at Nu 45 a kilogram.

The Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) wrote to Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) on March 10, requesting the agency to buy the ginger from farmers at the prescribed price utilising the balance Over-Draft Facility, which was provided last year.

The request was also made after the commitment of the government to compensate the price difference between the buy-back price and the final selling price, should the FCBL incur huge financial loss in undertaking the venture.

Without local buyers and opening of auction for ginger, many farmers in Dagana still haven’t harvested their produce.

Had it been in the past, farmers would have cultivated new gingers by this time.

A ginger farmer in Tsendagang, Hochu Leki, said that he was happy, as he would be able to sell his ginger.

“The export rate is only Nu 15 at the moment,” he said. “The government paying us Nu 45 for a kilogram would benefit at this time of market failure.”

He said that it was now high time to harvest ginger. “We need to transplant the crop without further delay.”

Another ginger farmer in Tashiding, Pema Lhamo, said that she was waiting for buyers. “I’m expecting at least 2,000kg ginger from one-acre plantation this time.”

Announcing the government’s initiative on buy-back scheme of ginger, Sanam (agriculture) Lyonpo Yeshey Penjore, yesterday on his personal Facebook page, made a request to public to inform ginger growers to not sell ginger at less than Nu 45 per kg.

He wrote that some private individuals were taking advantage and buying from farmers at a lower rate and making profit.  He also asked farmers to connect with respective gewog agriculture extension officers in order to link themselves with FCBL for aggregation of ginger.

Farmers in Dagana, however, said that no buyers came for ginger so far.

Lyonpo said that the government came up with the initiative to save farmers from incurring huge loss in view of low export rate.

“The buy-back price was determined considering the cost of production,” he said.  After buying back, the government would do re-distribution or marketing.

The business director with FCBL in Phuentsholing, Dorji Tashi, said that the buy-back scheme was expected to be initiated next week.

“Currently, we’re discussing with dzongkhag agriculture officials to make arrangements for collection and transportation,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmers are currently paid Nu 12 to Nu 15 for a kg of ginger in Phuentsholing and Samtse.

One exporter in Phuentsholing, Singye Wangdi said he has stocked the produce because of the low rate.

“The trading rate is also very low. Parties from across the border just pay Nu 16 to Nu 18 to us,” he said.

Singye Wangdi said there was not much profit given the loading, unloading and transhipment costs involved.

A ginger farmer from Samtse, Marmith Lepcha, said she has about 200kg of ginger.

“We sell ginger across the border. We have to make a bolero full load and then send at the border from where it’s transshipped,” she said.

Meanwhile, traders say there are two types of ginger in the market, one that sells at lower and one at higher rates.

One exporter in Tashicholing said the ones used for cultivation was still selling at Nu 50 to Nu 60 per kg.

“FCBL asks for good quality and there are chances they may not take the ones that are going at Nu 15 per kg today,” he said.