Potato and four other cash crops listed in the export list

Exporters in Phuentshogling welcomed the news of adding products of potato, areca nut, apple, mandarin and ginger to the export list. The export of potato came to an abrupt halt last week after the Indian officials across the border stopped import of Bhutanese potatoes as it was not listed in the export list. After the export of potato came to a halt since last Sunday, exporters had to unload the potatoes in godowns in Phuentshogling. The sudden hindrance in the trade has worried the exporters, as it is the first time private individuals were allowed to export the potato. However, exporters were now happy to hear the good news. “When the export of potatoes came to halt abruptly, we were disheartened. It delights us just by hearing the news that the potatoes will be allowed to export. I hope that with such bilateral talks between the two governments, there won’t be such issues in future,” said Yeshi Wangchuk, an exporter at Phuentshogling. “With this, the farmers as well as we the exporters will be benefitted. We are very happy now. While we buy potatoes from farmers, we immediately pay them. This benefits farmers. Since we can now export the potatoes which we already bought from them, it will benefit us too,” added Singye Wangdi, also an exporter in Phuentshogling. After the Food Corporation of Bhutan forwarded the issue to the government, the government worked on it immediately. Within a week, the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare in India published an official letter including these five products in the plant quarantine order. As per the press release from the Embassy of India, the decision is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that India would standby Bhutan in fighting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Agriculture and Forests Minister Yeshey Penjor, farmers and producers should focus on producing more while the government will always help in marketing. “The major products that Bhutan exports are there in the list. Initially, cardamom and asparagus were added. Now with the approval, we received yesterday, we have five more items. There may not be the need for export of other items urgently but we will definitely work on if the need arises,” Lyonpo said. Potato is a major cash crop for people of Chhukha, Paro, Bumthang and Wangdue Phodrang. Last year, Nu 621 M worth of potatoes were exported while only more than Nu 130 M worth of potatoes were exported until now. Price of potato is better this time since the pandemic has affected farming in India.

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