Poor harvest squashes mandarin business

The slump in mandarin production is touted as one of the worst in recent years

Export: Each businessman associated to mandarin export in Phuentsholing yards at Toorsa embankment have unhappy tales to tell.

Business, they say, has squashed by more than 70 percent.

Sonam Norbu, 30, just transported three truckloads of the produce on December 21.

“These are all I have this year,” the supplier said. “There are no mandarin at all.”

Around this time last year, the Nganglam supplier had brought eight truckloads at the auction yard. However, with just three truckloads, his trade journey is ending bitterly, he said.

Sonam Norbu brought the mandarin to Phuentsholing given the better price. A mill (240 oranges) can fetch Nu 900 in Samdrupjongkhar, while the same fetches Nu 1,000 in Phuentsholing.

A farmer from Purbey, Samtse, Lok Bahadur Tamang shared a similar story. Until yesterday he unloaded eight truckloads of mandarin, while it was 20 truckloads last year for the same period.

“I may go for another three truckloads,” he said adding the fruits were almost over in the farms back home.

Lok Bahadur Tamang earned about Nu 300,000 in 2014 but this year, he said, the earnings look gloomy.

Farmers attribute low production to unfavourable weather condition that experienced windstorm and hailstone even though the trees had flowered well in spring. The sprouts however died in June which some doubt was because of poor rainfall in the initial days this year. Suppliers also mentioned insects and other diseases that infested the fruits.

A transporter from Trongsa, Phuntsho, 44, also said the export business could see a huge fall this time.

“I do not know what happened but there are no mandarin this year,” he said.

Phuntsho, who ferries mandarin from Sarpang, said all mandarin growing places shared the same outcome. Around the same time, the transporter had carried 15 truckloads of mandarin last year. He had just reached a truckload yesterday for the first time this year.

Exporters are already worried at the future of mandarin export and are calling for relevant agencies to appropriately study and research the matter.

One of the exporters Sonam Tobgay said he had not come across such a scenario in his seven years of export business.

“The problems are in the orange fields,” the exporter said. “Farmers in the country could have done much better with some support.”

Almost a month since the season started, Sonam Tobgay was busy working on his third truckload of mandarin yesterday evening. The exporter had managed 73 truckloads by this time last year.

Another exporter at Torsa embankment pointed out that Nagpur in India has continued to see huge production both this year and last year.

“I think Bhutan can do even better,” the exporter said, wishing anonymity. “The agriculture extension offices must be proactive now.”

Although correct figures could not be gathered, the general understanding at the depot is that exporters have not managed to transported more than 400 truckloads of mandarin this year. More than 1,000 truckloads had been lifted from Toorsa embankment last year by this time.

Orange export to Bangladesh in 2014 generated USD 10.42M, which was the highest earnings in the 14 years. The figures with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) revealed that the country had produced 26,728.10 metric tons (MT) of mandarin last year, more than double of the 12,728.10 MT produced in 2013. Exporters in 2013 had earned about USD 5.6M.

However, with mandarin yards across the country showing the same signs this year, businessmen suggest the government try something and save the export culture gets completely uprooted.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply