Chhimi Dema

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said there were no problems in exporting mandarin orange even during the pandemic times.

At the National Assembly’s question hour yesterday, Nganglam MP Choida Jamtsho asked the minister about the government’s plans, programmes and projects to ensure uninterrupted export of the fruit.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that exporting mandarin orange wasn’t a problem but was worried about the possibility of low-grade produce.

“Factors such as climate change and encroachment and fallowing of land, among others, impact the production of crops,” Lyonpo said, adding that the ministry has developed Standard Operation Procedure (SoP) to facilitate the export of agriculture produce.

Lyonpo said that officials from the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Co-operatives (DAMC) were deputed to Samdrupjongkhar, Gelephu, Samtse and Phuentsholing to facilitate the export of mandarin orange.

Lyonpo said that Lhamoizingkha in Dagana reported a dip in the production of mandarin orange this year. “By accessing the situation at Lhamoizingkha the ministry would assign an official to facilitate export.”

The ministry made arrangements with the local wood-based industry for the production of mandarin crates, Lyonpo said.

There was a requirement, Lyonpo said, of at least 700,000 crates for the export of mandarin orange this year. Local wood-based industry was involved in making the crates. “About 100,000 crates were made in the country; the rest were imported.”

Export of the fruit from Tsirang begins from Thursday and December 8 from Gelephu.

Khar-Yurung MP Tshering Chhoden asked Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor about the measures taken to improve the buyback policy to benefit the farmers.

Lyonpo said that buying back was the last resort to help farmers. “The best strategy is to facilitate farmers with marketing strategies for better prices.”  He added the government resort to the policy only when export becomes impossible.

Lyonpo said that the buyback policy was implemented during the lockdown when the government had to buy cabbage from the farmers for the quarantine facilities, frontliners and the monastic institutions.

Answering to Nanong-Shumar MP Lungten Namgyel’s question on vegetable self-sufficiency, especially during winter, Lyonpo said that the ministry was working with farmers and youth for the production of vegetables.

Lyonpo said that seven dzongkhags in the southern region were identified to grow and supply vegetables in winter and was helping farmers with irrigation and greenhouses.