Low production is cited as one of the reasons

In what is considered to be one of the best price oranges have fetched in recent years, the Gelephu auction yard recorded the highest price at Nu 9 a piece this year.

Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited’s (FCBL) officials at the auction yard claim that Nu 9 for a piece (Salakhala or SK) of orange is a record price despite the mediocre quality.

Orange auctioning in Gelephu began about a week ago.

Bhutanese exporters and Indian bidders from across the border are in stiff competition because of low production this year.

The auction yard’s manager, Norbu Wangdi, said that the price is better this year because even the smallest orange (kil) is fetching Nu 1 a piece. “It’s competitive bidding here, which is good for our farmers.”

As of December 6, a total of 22,560 metric ton (MT) of orange has been auctioned in Gelephu.

The average rate has remained at Nu 32.60 a kilogram. Oranges from six dzongkhags of Tsirang, Dagana, Wangdue, Punakha, Zhemgang and Sarpang are brought to the auction yard.

FCBL officials said that Bhutanese exporters in the past opted the auction yard only when they could not fill trucks from the orchards they reserved.

“But this year, exporters are already into bidding, which is an indication that production is less,” an official said. “But the mandarin season has just begun and we can’t comment on the production yet.”

Sangay is one of the exporters. He bought three lots of mandarin for Nu 27,000 and 32,000.  He said he has been bidding at the yard since November 25 and managed to export at least eight truckloads to Bangladesh so far.

He has booked more than 10 orchards in Sarpang and said he could not fetch much. He claimed he has already paid the orchard owners and claimed that he paid Nu 100,000 for an orchard. “I usually get a truckload of oranges but this year, it was just a Bolero load.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu