The agriculture ministry would buy the remaining cardamom stock with the farmers within this month, agriculture minister said yesterday.

The ministry estimates that about 380 metric tons of cardamom are still with the farmers.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor said the ministry would export after buying the spice from the farmers.

“There are ways the ministry can export, and we’re exploring the options at the moment,” lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said. “This produce has to be disposed and so we need to export them soon.”

The ministry is exploring two options to address the issues with the cardamom export this year.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said the government is working on a long-term solution to the issue through diplomatic efforts. “It has reached an advanced level and we’re hoping it would come through soon,” the minister said.

He also said that in the mean time, as a temporary measure the government is pursuing efforts to buy the produce should the former measure not materialise on time.

The ministry explored various measures to tackle the issue, he said. There were three options – to buy the produce at cost of production plus 20 percent profit, which amounts close to Nu 350 a kilogramme, or to buy it at the market rate of Nu 450 a kilogramme.

The ministry opted for the buy back option at Nu 550 a kilogramme. However, the produce will be screened to ensure quality for export.

The ministry through the dzongkhags is in the process of finding out how much exactly it has to buy or how much farmers have to sell.

“Once we’re done with the inventory, we will request the finance ministry for budget and start buying,” the minister said.

However, should the diplomatic efforts resolve the entry port problem and the gates open for export to the farmers, they will be given the choice to sell as was the practice.

The agriculture department issued a notification on December 10 instructing dzongdags to instruct agriculture officers to register farmers willing to sell their cardamom stock.

The halt in export of cardamom to India was due to the failure in including the four exit points from Bhutan to India as ‘points of entry for import of plants and plant materials’ BAFRA stated.

Export of cardamom to India has been affected since the Indian Goods and Services Tax (GST) commenced on July 1, 2017. Starting November 28, cardamom export to India had come to a complete stop. This comes after the implementation of GST had the customs offices install the computerised system called ICEGATE in Jaigaon and other border towns that link trade to Bhutan.

Tshering Palden