Phub Dem

The government is trying to import affordable fertiliser from India and Bangladesh.

Farmers were concerned about the insufficient supply of fertilisers, and the issue was recently raised in the National Assembly.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor informed the House that about 2,500 metric tonnes (MT) of fertiliser would be available soon, but the ministry is still trying to facilitate the import.

Sanam Lyonpo said that although the ministry got one-time approval to import 2,000MT of chemical fertilisers on December 30, there was an issue with the price.

He said that the commercial rate of the fertiliser was around Nu 87,000 per MT, which the farmers cannot afford, adding that the foreign ministry was negotiating with the Indian embassy to allow the import at a subsidised rate.

According to Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, chemical fertilisers have been illegal since 1973 but suppliers continued supplying subsidised fertilisers to Bhutan.

He said that it was illegal to trade the chemical fertilisers from one state to another.

According to the Basel Convention, an international treaty to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations, India had stopped the export of fertilisers to other countries.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the country continued to import fertiliser until the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and digitisation of the trading system in India. With a formal trading system in place, the import of chemical fertiliser became an issue.

With such inconveniences, importers participating in quotations dropped, which led to price rise.

Lyonpo said that the ministry tried importing fertilisers through alternative means, but the sole supplier proposed triple the price. “That’s why we were not able to import. We are negotiating with the importer.”

As Bhutanese farmers were used to buying the fertiliser at a lower price, the government requested the Government of India to consider the cost. “The ministry also requested the government of Bangladesh to approve one-time export of fertiliser to Bhutan.”

Further, Lyonpo said that the economic affairs minister would discuss the issue with his counterparts in India in the coming week.