Nima | Gelephu

With more oranges getting rejected at the depots in Gelephu, the returns from the orange export this season had dropped almost by half, according to the suppliers.

A DCM truckload of oranges last year fetched Nu 130,000 from the exporters. This year, the exporters pay Nu 70,000 only and the rate further slashed with the number of rejected oranges.

A supplier, Loknath Koirala, said they were not aware of the rate in the beginning when they had to harvest the produce to avoid wild animals damaging it.

He said since the depots were ready, they were excited about the export. “Now we have to bear a huge loss. Transportation cost has doubled while the orchard owners charged us a high price for the oranges.”

He said that the farmers and suppliers have to bear the huge loss from the pandemic. “Oranges couldn’t fetch a good price in the market this year.”

While exporters have to bear expenses on packing, grading, loading, and unloading, suppliers reach the produce till the depots from the orchards.

Only about three percent of the exporters have their own orchard and does not require suppliers.

Another supplier, NB Gurung, who is currently working in one of the depots in Gelephu said they had to bear the main loss of poor market price. “We have to pay to the people harvesting the produce a minimum of Nu 500 and also to the carriers. With the shortage of labour they demanded high wages.”

He claimed there is not much loss on the exporters.

An inspector from Bangladesh said the oranges are delayed for one day at depots in Gelephu because of labour shortage. “The produce should reach Bangladesh at the earliest. We need 72 hours to sell the product but the current oranges are not lasting even 24 hours.”

An exporter, Lila Nath Khatiwar, said more oranges are rejected these days because of inexperienced packers. “The rejected ones in the normal times were sold to neighbouring Indian towns in Assam.

He said that it would be of huge benefit to exporters, suppliers, and farmers if the government allows medium Indian vehicles to come into Bhutan to buy the rejected ones.

“We tried to explore the domestic market by supplying to agro-industries but couldn’t pursue because of the lockdown. More than 25 boxes are rejected from a truck while exporting,” Lila Nath Khatiwar said.

Close to 500 truck loads, 4081.18 metric tonnes, worth USD 2010618 were exported to Bangladesh from Gelephu to date.