Chhimi Dema

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) is working to scale up the export of agricultural produce beyond neighbouring countries. 

MoAF Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the ministry, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is consulting the Bhutanese embassies for the export of farm produce from Bhutan to the embassies. “The ministry has focused on agricultural produce production but has lacked efforts in exporting produce.”

This was said in response to Bartsam-Shongphu’s member of parliament Passang Dorji’s (PhD) question on the issue of farmers facing difficulties exporting vegetables to India during the question hour session in the National Assembly yesterday. 

According to the Bhutan Trade Statistics (Provisional), from April to June 2021, 343.7 metric tonnes of vegetables worth Nu 7.88 million were exported to India. 

In 2019, vegetables worth Nu 2.81 billion (B) were exported to India, and Nu 3.95B worth exported in 2020. 

Bhutan exported produce worth Nu 31.5M to other countries in 2020, and Nu 93.3M worth in 2019. 

Sanam Lyonpo said that despite the challenges, the ministry has facilitated the export of the produce. 

Earlier this year, farmers and exporters faced difficulties with exporting their produce because the products were not included in the Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003, which regulates the imports and prohibits the import of plants and plant products into India.

“Our exporters did not assess the quality of the produce and immediately exported after harvesting. They did not know where the produce was taken and what prices were fetched,” he said. 

Chumey-Ura’s MP Drungtsho Karma Wangchuk questioned Sanam Lyonpo on the measures in place for the supply of fertilisers that were currently insufficient. 

Sanam Lyonpo said that the ministry was working with private companies to manufacture natural fertilisers. 

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 through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MoAF has asked for the import of fertilisers from India. “Similarly, we have asked the Bangladesh government for support, and they have promised us to help us.” 

Lyonpo informed the House that about 2,500 metric tonnes of fertilisers would be available soon.