English | Dzongkha Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Apple growers upset as price slumps

Sep 11, 2021

Like all trades, the apple business in the country has also been affected by the COVID pandemic. The price of apples has reduced compared to the past years. This has left apple growers and fruit vendors in the country upset. 

According to the farmers and fruit vendors, their customers have mainly been tourists. And without any tourists this year due to the current pandemic situation, they are having difficulty selling their apples. In the past, a kilogram of apples would fetch at least Nu 100. The price this time has dropped to between Nu 50 and Nu 80.

Phub Dorji, a fruit vendor says he used to sell about 15 to 20 boxes of apples within a week. “Now it’s difficult to sell even five boxes of apple.”

Another fruit vendor Dema said the price and customers have both reduced this time around.

According to Dago Bidha who sells apples from her orchard, they have been facing many problems due to the pandemic. “We brought these apples by taxi and we only got around Nu 600 to Nu 700 per box.”

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, apple production in the country increased this year which resulted in a decrease in price. They added income from export have also decreased due to high cost incurred while exporting.

Kinlay Tshering, the Director of the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives said there are several compliances that exporters have to follow such as the switching of drivers. “Even on the other side of the border I guess, the income would have been impacted. Maybe the consumption is also not good as it used to be in the past.”

The department is currently working to help market the apples across the country. In addition, they are planning to set up cold storage facilities so that the fruits can be stored and sold during the offseason.

Last year Bhutan exported more than 250 metric tons of apples, the lowest so far. However, this year the country exported about 300 metric tons of apples to India and Bangladesh so far.

Kelzang Choden/ Karma Wangdi

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen 

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