Cardamom traders upset over low cardamom price
Unlike in the past, the flat rate of cardamom all through, without a penny increase in months, has left many exporters dejected. The current market price still remains low at Nu 480 per kilogram.
The exporters have witnessed a steady fall in the cardamom price in the last five years and they now doubt that there could be a syndicate formed across the border that controls the price of cardamom.
Many exporters said Bhutanese cardamom should be fetching better price at this time of the season. “But it has not crossed Nu 500 so far,” said an exporter.
Cardamom, unlike in the past, is mostly exported to Bangladesh and some to India.
“If there is no syndicate, then the price should fluctuate in the market. And by this time, we should be fetching at least Nu 1,000 per kilogram for our cardamom,” said Singye Wangdi of Singye Export and Import.
“There are around five Bangladeshi traders in the town and they gel with those Indian traders who also operate in the town. We suspect that they are controlling the price. Otherwise, it is impossible that price of a product remain constant throughout the export season,” he added.
In Tendu and Norgaygang gewogs in Samtse, the farmers quote at least Nu 575 per kilogram. Even in Dagana and Tsirang, the rates are more or less the same. And at this backdrop, the local cardamom traders are left in doldrums.
“I do not understand what to do. There is no point doing business if the selling price is equal to buying rate,” said Singye Wangdi.
He is also of an opinion that increasing number of buyers from across the border could have led to sudden dwindling in the cardamom price.
“From some 10 cardamom buyers a few years ago, today there are around 40 of them in the markets. And because of rising competition among them, many have resorted to deceptive practices that directly affect our farmers and us,” said Singye.
He mentioned that while some of them deceive the sellers in weighing machine, some could have started forming syndicate.
According to an Indian trader, the availability of the cardamom from middle-east countries in the Indian and Bangladeshi markets has been one factor that determines the price of Bhutanese cardamom.
“Bhutanese cardamoms are raw and that is why its rate is low. Bhutanese have to maintain export quality product in order to fetch better price,” he said.
The president of Bhutan Exporters’ Association, Dorji Tshering, said the exporters could be selling old stocks. “Prices are determined by the market force and therefore nothing much we can do. Our price is totally dependent on the yield in North-East India,” said the president.
He added that it is high time that our traders explore better marketing strategies to compete in the market. “If we improve the whole package of our products, not just cardamom, I think our products will naturally fetch good prices. If we see the demand of cardamom globally, it is very good,” the president added.
Regarding the possibility of syndicate formation, he said it is yet to be confirmed.
Also, the president believes that Anti Corruption Commission’s action in Phuentsholing has affected the market.
“If we are to go big about cardamom export, then I think our government should come up with initiatives to maintain export quality,” said Dorji Tshering.
Meanwhile, the traders and the farmers are still looking forward to see the price soar.