Agriculture ministry prioritises five crops for export

Bhutan is looking at diversifying the country’s export market by exporting high-value products with high demand. The government has sent out a few of these crops to Malaysia on trial and exported some to Japan. The agriculture ministry is now looking at exporting these products to member countries of the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative as well.

The agriculture ministry has identified five crops as priority crops based on nutritional value, demand and potential for export.

The five priority crops are quinoa, ginger, adzuki beans, buckwheat, and turmeric.

Bhutan recently exported close to two tons of ginger, millet and turmeric to Malaysia on trial. In addition, the country also sent samples of adzuki beans, quinoa and buckwheat to Japan in an attempt to explore markets.

Now the agriculture ministry is looking at if these priority crops can be exported to member countries of the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative.

During the sixth General Assembly of the Initiative, the agriculture ministry sought the support of the member countries to help increase production, and improve productivity, value addition and market access for these crops.

“For Bhutan, I think we want to take this opportunity of getting a collaboration with those countries, exchange our ideas, and do certain production value change and marketing within these countries,” said Karma Tshering, Chief Planning Officer with the Policy and Planning Division of the agriculture ministry.

According to the agriculture ministry, Bhutan produces a significant amount of these organic crops every year which the domestic market cannot absorb. Moreover, not many Bhutanese can afford the crops as some of them are priced high.

As per data with the ministry, the country produces about two metric tons of quinoa, 200 metric tons of buckwheat, 300 metric tons of ginger, and over 100 metric tons of turmeric every year.

“For the export, we are trying to prioritise because we won’t be able to sell everything. So, we wanted to focus on those products which have high value and high demand in other countries. We are looking at Quinoa, turmeric, and even products like beans which have a high value,” said Karma Tshering.

Besides Bhutan, the 14 other member countries of the initiative are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and Uzbekistan.

Kelzang Choden

Edited by Phub Gyem

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