Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

Deoraj Ghalley and his friend Purna Bahadur Ghalley from Chomchey village in Phuentsholing gewog returned home upset yesterday.

Their hopes of earning from ginger were shattered as a kilogram of ginger sold at Nu 25, one of the lowest in years.

“Farmers back home depend mainly on ginger but the rate is so painful,” Deoraj Ghalley said.

Purna Bahadur Ghalley had brought 500kgs of ginger. He said the rhizome sold at more than Nu 50 per kg a few months ago.

Deoraj and Purna also supply ginger to traders in Phuentsholing. They said that the ginger supply business is totally hit with the current price. Suppliers pay Nu 20 a kg to farmers.

“Considering the transportation and transhipment charges at a block due to landslide, we pay a total of Nu 4 for transporting a kilo of ginger to Phuentsholing,” Purna Bahadur Ghalley said. Their profit margin has dropped to only Nu 1 per kg.

An exporter, Singye Wangdi, who stopped buying ginger blames the price drop on the quality of the produce. “Farmers don’t maintain quality.”

Recently, he said, bad quality ginger from Bhutan had entered the Indian market, which has damaged the reputation. “Nobody is interested to buy ginger these days.”

Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) earlier this year announced that it would buy several farm produce, owing to the recent halt of export, traders said it was not buying.

Earlier FCBL has bought ginger for Nu 54 per kg, a supplier said.

Considering the market situation, it is the farmers who suffer as they don’t have much market information and end up selling the produce directly to the suppliers or traders.

These traders or suppliers then sell the produce with a huge profit margin to buyers across the border. They also have the advantage of selling directly to FCBL.

“Farmers prefer selling to us because it takes time to get cash if they sold to FCBL,” a trader said. “And farmers need immediate cash payment.”

Most ginger growers who sell ginger in Phuentsholing are from Phuentsholing and Lokchina gewogs. These farmers use the income to buy necessities and return home the same day.

Even if they sold the produce to FCBL, a trader said many wouldn’t have bank accounts, where the FCBL can deposit. 

FCBL’s current buying rate is Nu 40 to Nu 45 a kg of ginger. However, it has stopped buying because of the export halt.