SHERAB DORJI | Thimphu
While orange farmers of Thulo Dumtoe, a village in Dumtoe gewog under Dorokha Dungkhag in Samtse, saw a good yield of the cash crop this year as compared to the previous years, farmers say their profit margins didn’t grow as expected.
Moreover, mandarin business dealers couldn’t make a good profit margin even though their expectations were high despite good orange yield this year.
Villagers said before many dealers from Samtse used to come to their orchards this time of the year to buy their oranges, however, this year only a few turned up which affected their business.
Ratna Tamang, an orange dealer said, “I think many dealers couldn’t make it to the orange orchard because many mandarin businessmen couldn’t take the oranges to Thimphu and Phuentsholing because of the pandemic.”
He added that though some dealers were able to ferry the oranges towards Phuentsholing and Thimphu many couldn’t. “Apart from selling it to a few Indian dealers, I couldn’t take my oranges to prime markets in the country. This really affected our business.”
Unlike the previous years, this year dealers from Bhutan had to send the fruit to Indian dealers where they were often deceived by their Indian counterparts.
Ratna, a mandarin dealer said, “Though we send 100 boxes to the Indian dealers they say they received only 95 boxes. We have to put up with their lies as we cannot physically go and verify.”
Ratna further stated that he just made a profit of around Nu 20,000 which was far less than what he used to mint in the previous years. “I made a profit of Nu 50,000 last year but the profit margins were far from what we expected even though the production was high.”
Karna Bir Rai, a resident at Dumtoe village said, “Before our oranges used to reach the market as soon as the orange season started but this year it took a while to reach our oranges in the market.”
He further added that his oranges also got damaged by rain while some were rotten because of the delay in getting potential dealers and the time taken to ferry them to the market.
“I expected to earn more than compared to last year, but because of the limited market this year I made just about the same profit as the previous year though the production was high this season,” he said.
Another mandarin grower, Kamal Singh Rai shared the same plight. “We are happy with the money we earned but with more production this season I expected to earn more this year.”
Kamal further added that most of the orange trees had reached their prime, which is ten to twelve years, a factor that led to a bumper yield. He said the decline in profit margin might also be because of less marketing and few dealers visiting their orchards.
He further said that their village is far from the main depot at Samtse and that they solely depended on exporters and dealers to ferry their harvest to the depot.
However, it’s a different story for Chitra Man Rai, also an orange dealer in Thulo Dumtoe village. “I am happy with the production and the marketing as I made my own satisfactory profit.”
Chitra said that it mainly depends upon the marketing style and the relation among the different dealers. “I sold about 2000 pons (80 oranges per pon) of oranges in Samtse, Phuntsholing, and Thimphu as I already had my own dealers in Bhutan rather than just depending on Indian dealers.”
Meanwhile, the oranges fetched around Nu 280 to 300 per pon for smaller size and Nu 350 to 400 a pon for medium size while the larger ones fetched Nu 500 to 600 a pon.