Chimi Dema | Tsirang

Without exporters coming to buy his mandarin orange, a farmer in Kilkhorthang in Tsirang, Sonam, sold his orange worth Nu 130,000 to a local vendor who supplies to Thimphu.

Owing to the global pandemic, the farmer who used to take orange to depots in Gelephu in the past couldn’t this time.

Sonam said that he had also bought fruits from his neighbours expecting buyers for export.

He said that although the price wasn’t as expected he had to sell the orange due to financial situations. “For the amount of orange which could fetch about Nu 50,000 in the past, I couldn’t get more than Nu 15,000 this time.”

Another farmer from the gewog said that it was difficult to sell his orange even within the dzongkhag with the weekend market closed due to the nationwide lockdown.

He said that owners of small orchard faced major market problems.

Local vendors are helping link farmers to local market.

Budhi Man Tamang, a vendor, supplied three truckloads of orange to Thimphu last week.

A vendor from Semjong, Deo Bdr. Jogi, has so far supplied more than 40 boxes of orange to Thimphu and Paro. A box of oranges (about 300 pieces) is sold at about Nu 1,300.

The vendors, however, said that it was difficult to sell orange without ready buyers. 

“Moreover, we need to return to our station on the same day,” Budhi Man Tamang said.

Tsirang so far has supplied over 17 metric tonnes (MT) of mandarin orange to Thimphu and Paro.

Dzongkhag agriculture officials said that given the labour intensive task, exporters could not go to orchards to buy orange.

“Instead, farmers owning small orchards or from far-flung places were encouraged to take their produces to depots,” the official said.

In an effort to solve market problem facing orange growers, officials said that farmers were asked to explore different options. “They can take to either depots in the dzongkhag or in Gelephu or Phuentsholing.”

Officials also said that major orange growers were asked to contact the exporters and negotiate rates accordingly. “We have also requested gewog administrations to help with transportation should need arises.”

However, despite the second nationwide lockdown, mandarin export from Tsirang is going on smoothly these days.

Damphu-based exporter, Dina Nath Adhikari, has exported about 30MT of orange since the nationwide lockdown on December 23.

As of yesterday, he has supplied over three metric tonnes of mandarin to local market.

About 10MT of orange that did not meet export quality were bought by Bhutan Agro Industries Limited  from the depot.