Meat import increase by 16 percent

The government supported the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) to purchase 50.2 metric tonnes of cardamom worth Nu 20.75 million (M) using the Nu 50M Over-Draft Facility last year.

This scheme benefitted some 549 farmers from eight cardamom-growing districts, according to the department of agricultural marketing and cooperatives’ annual report 2018-2019.

Cardamom was then exported or sold locally by the FCBL.

According to the report, with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India the value of  export of spices fell in 2018 compared to 2017. Although the export of non-wood forest products improved over the years with the introduction of GST, documentation issue at the border points surfaced.

“As a result, cardamom export to India was affected. This had also affected the price of cardamom in Bangladesh,” the report stated. “The export documentation issue was resolved, however, the prices remained low, which is why government resorted on buy-back.”

The buy-back scheme is a contingency strategy to provide support to farmers at times of market failures. The commodities are then included in the scheme and buy-back price is determined annually by a technical committee representing various stakeholders.

Auctioning of Cordyceps were done at 10 different sites, involving a total of 1,746 collectors and 35 buyers took last year. A total  of  346.75kg Cordyceps worth Nu 175.945M were auctioned.

The auction last year reported the highest bid ever at Nu 2.21M per kg.

The major imports, according to the report, still constitute meat, rice, dairy produce, oil, and vegetables.

Compared to 2017, meat recorded the highest increase of 16 percent, while rice import decreased by five percent.

According to the report, the department’s market research on the assessment of organic produce demand of high-end hotels showed that the word ‘organic’ and ‘local’ are used loosely and interchangeably, which made assessing the demand difficult.

“Most hotels do not differentiate between ‘organic’ or otherwise, or keep proper records of procurement although price, supply and quality are important to determinants,” report stated. “There is a need to design, research and model differently to project real demand of organic produce in the country.”

Women contribute significantly to farming; of the total 1,770 new members registered during 2018-2019, 52 per cent are women.

The report also mentions that the agriculture sector has the potential to create gainful employment through the creation of pro table agri-businesses.

The existing 170 farm shops continue to employ 340 people. However, because of the shift in policy vis-à-vis farm shops, no new farm shop was established in 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Yangchen C Rinzin