Increased production is attributed in part to the support growers received from MoA

Horticulture: Citrus mandarin (orange) export to Bangladesh in 2014 earned Bhutanese exporters USD 10.42M (million), the highest earnings in about 14 years.

The figures with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) show Bhutan was able to produce about 26,728.10MT (metric tonnes) of mandarin last year, which is more than double the 12,728.10MT produced in 2013.  Exporters in 2013 had made about USD 5.6M from oranges.

The general secretary of the association, Tshering Yeshey, said 2014 saw substantial production and, therefore, earnings. “This is excluding the exports to India,” he said.

Tshering Yeshey attributed the increased production of oranges across the country to the support orange growers had received from the agriculture ministry.  From orchard management until harvesting time, the agriculture ministry, he said, had given various technical advice that encouraged growers in the country.

On the other hand, oranges in Bhutan were more organic compared to oranges from other places, because of which demand increased, the general secretary reasoned.

Another factor, he said, was the close association with Bangladesh through regular official visits to enhance marketing.  The association also feels that the new trade routes, such as Dawki in Meghalaya and Tamabil in Bangladesh, had added more advantage to exports.

The exporters in the country’s east used these two routes.  About 2,123MT of oranges were transported through these routes, which earned about USD 0.92M.

Meanwhile, price was one major aspect that changed the scenario, exporters say.  Prices for mandarin last year ranged from USD 10 to USD 13 a box containing 25kg and 27kg, depending on size and weight.

Exporters also feel the exports have increased despite the political unrest in Bangladesh and frequent strikes on the trade routes.  During such times, orange growers had sold their fruit directly in the Indian market.

Although the association didn’t provide figures on how much was earned from India, about 10,101.83MT of oranges were sold in India.

In the last 14 years, orange export has done business worth USD 86.85M or more than Nu 4 billion.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing