Lucrative start for apple export season

But export quantity is likely to drop by half of what was exported last year

Trade: The apple export season this year started on a lucrative scale.

Market rate, exporters say is USD 700 a metric ton (MT), more than the season’s floor price of USD 650. A floor price is the minimum price prearranged for the fruit.

Following six truckloads of apple in the first consignment, the general secretary with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) in Phuentsholing, Tshering Yeshi said that 21 truckloads of apple have already been exported until August 20.

“Market is good but we cannot say it would remain the same,” he said.

Tshering Yeshi said weather also determines the market in Bangladesh and that export will drop if it rains heavily there.

Another factor that determines apple export, the general secretary said was the “political situation.” However, the biggest concern remained in maintaining the quality consistency.

“The competition is stiff,” Tshering Yeshi said, adding Bangladesh imports apple from many countries.

Meanwhile, exporters say that there will be a 50 percent drop in apple export this year compared to last year.

The owner of Kinzang Exports based in Phuentsholing, Gaugay said some places in Thimphu and Paro are expecting a good harvest, while it was otherwise in many other orchards. “It could be due to the rain,” he said.

Gaugay sent his first consignment of apples yesterday. As far as Bangladesh is concerned as an export destination, quality is priority.

Another exporter in the town, Nim Tshering also said that harvest could drop despite demand with good returns.

Bhutan exports apple to Bangladesh and India with Bangladesh being the favourite destination for exporters mainly because the trade is done in USD.

The country exported 5,385.60MT of apples worth USD 3.5 million to India in 2014. About 1,387.42MT worth USD 901,823 was exported to Bangladesh the same year.

The apple export will continue until mid September and sometimes extends until October.

Export to Bangladesh is likely to turn more lucrative next year when the motor vehicle transport agreement is implemented.

Exporters will be able to save in transportation. Currently, Bhutanese exporters hire Indian trucks that drop the produce until Burimari, border for India and Bangladesh. Bhutanese truckers also ply until the border to drop the fruit.

Once the transport agreement is implemented, truckers will be able to ply all the way to Dhaka and pick up goods coming to Bhutan.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

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