Group formed to ex­port farm­ers’ pro­duce to third coun­tries

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Kr­ishna Ghal­ley

Bhutan Ex­port Busi­ness Line (BEBL), an ex­por­to­ri­ented busi­ness in Phuentshol­ing is hope­ful to take Bhutanese ex­ports to the next level. Formed by Bhutanese busi­ness in­di­vid­u­als, the as­so­ci­a­tion has al­ready started ex­port­ing coun­try’s com­modi­ties into third coun­tries.

Since most of the Bhutanese com­modi­ties are ab­sorbed within the In­dian mar­ket, BEBL feels that the farm­ers are de­prived of the de­serv­ing mar­ket price which is de­ter­mined by the cross bor­der traders. “There is scope be­yond that which we need to ex­plore,” said BEBL’s Chair­man Rinzin Dorji. The pop­u­lar third coun­try des­ti­na­tion for Bhutanese cash crop is Bangladesh where ap­ple and man­darin are ex­ported in larger quan­ti­ties. The other mar­ket is Nepal for potato.

BEBL has started ex­plor­ing markets like mid­dle-east coun­tries which fetch bet­ter prices. He said that while Bhutanese agro prod­ucts are highly val­ued in these coun­tries due to their or­ganic nu­tri­ent con­tent, lack of co­or­di­na­tion and mar­ket­ing strate­gies have hin­dered the Bhutanese prod­ucts from reach­ing these desti­na­tions. They have pro­cured a car­damom grad­ing ma­chine which is in­stalled in their of­fice. The ma­chine grades the car­damom and the fi­nal prod­uct is ex­ported. “Since we are pro­mot­ing our coun­try im­age in­ter­na­tion­ally, qual­ity is as­sured,” said Rinzin Dorji.

So far, BEBL has started only with car­damom but the as­so­ci­a­tion will ex­plore markets for other cash crops later. The as­so­ci­a­tion plans to com­plete well es­tab­lished mar­ket for car­damom and ven­ture into other cash crops. “Oth­er­wise, we will lack in meet­ing their de­mands if we do not es­tab­lish proper mar­ket and start do­ing ev­ery­thing at once,” the Chair­man said.

BEBL as­pires to col­lect best qual­ity agro prod­ucts from the farm­ers across the coun­try and pay them bet­ter prices than the cross bor­der traders. BEBL as­pires to be a pre­mier ex­port busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try com­pletely op­er­ated by na­tion­als. It also has Bhutanese ex­porters who deal with the ex­port of ap­ple, man­darin and car­damom.

BEBL feels pen­e­trat­ing Silig­uri in West Ben­gal a chal­lenge which is con­sid­ered a hub for car­damom ex­port busi­ness. How­ever, the as­so­ci­a­tion is ex­plor­ing ev­ery means to en­ter the mar­ket and ex­port to third coun­tries which are lim­ited till now. It has opened its branches in other parts of the coun­try to deal with the farm­ers.

The other cross bor­der traders how­ever said that Bhutanese prod­ucts have bet­ter scope com­pared to other neigh­bor­ing coun­tries since theirs lack proper pack­ag­ing for ex­port. Local and cross bor­der traders act as agents to ex­port those prod­ucts into In­dian mar­ket. These traders say that the farm­ers have started cheat­ing the traders pack­ing in­fe­rior qual­i­ties at the base and bet­ter qual­ity prod­ucts on top in a sack a box. “Ev­ery­one val­ues Bhutanese prod­ucts and there is no doubt for prices. Such acts from Bhutanese farm­ers can de­crease mar­ket,” an In­dian trader said adding that cus­tomers lose trust.

How­ever, the BEBL claims that in­de­cent prac­tices from these traders have com­pelled the farm­ers to cheat on pack­ag­ing and the coun­try’s im­age is tak­ing a beat­ing in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. “There are dif­fer­ent de­cep­tive prac­tices be­ing fol­lowed es­pe­cially in weight lur­ing them with at­trac­tive rates, but the farm­ers lose out at the end,” said BEBL’s Chair­man.

BEBL mean­while has dif­fer­ent modes to en­cour­age farm­ers to go for bet­ter pack­ag­ing and qual­ity main­te­nance. “We will pay ac­cord­ing to the qual­ity so that more farm­ers are en­cour­aged to go for bet­ter pack­ag­ing and prod­ucts to earn more,” said Shiva Lal Subedi, a mem­ber of the group.

BEBL is also ex­plor­ing op­tions to ex­port prod­ucts like medic­i­nal herbs, gin­ger, av­o­cado, ap­ple and cit­rus in the fu­ture. BEBL mean­while feels the ne­ces­sity of gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­niz­ers like agri­cul­ture sec­tor, Depart­ment of Rev­enue and Cus­toms and Trade to fa­cil­i­tate such ex­ports.

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