Doma export resumption via Samtse brings relief to exporters

After over three years, betel nut or doma exporters in Samtse are finally breathing a sigh of relief as the export through the Samtse Integrated Check Post resumes. This development comes as an advantage to the exporters who were grappling with extra travel and expenses due to export restrictions imposed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Betel nut is one of the main cash crops in the southern districts.

The halt on exports via the Samtse gate had forced all doma exporters, many of whom are Indians, to send their shipments via Phuentshogling resulting in added logistical challenges and financial burden.

“When we take our betel nuts from Samtse to Jaigaon, the road we use inside is dangerous and takes a long time. Sometimes, it takes two to three days for our things to get to Jaigaon. We also worry that our goods might get damaged while on the road,” said Rajendra Kumar Gupta, an exporter.

He added that they have to pay an additional transportation charge of about Nu 10,000 to export betel nuts via Jaigaon.

This had a ripple effect on the prices of doma in Samtse, affecting both exporters and local growers.

“Exporters set aside money for their travel costs, which affects the overall price of betel nuts. Betel nut prices have decreased this year. If we can export through the Samtse gate, especially us in villages, we will earn a bit more money for our betel nuts,” said Afidul Mohamed, an areca nut broker.

Things are getting better as exporters can now send betel nuts directly from the Samtse gate.

Rajendra Kumar Gupta, a doma exporter, has already sent about seven truckloads of betel nuts via the Samtse gate.

He said that although an agreement between the Indian and Bhutanese governments permitted this trade months ago, it was delayed due to issues in obtaining the registration certificate of imports for betel nuts from India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

“Initially, we were only approved to export betel nuts from Phuentshogling through the Jaigaon gate. However, we recently received approvals to export through the Chamurchi gates in Samtse as well.

Like Rajendra, Samtse has around 17 other betel nut exporters. Most of them are expected to receive their Registration Certificates for betel nut imports soon, allowing them to export through the Chamurchi gate.

Meanwhile, the FCB office in Samtse reported a slight increase in the price of betel nuts now that exporters can utilise the Chamurchi gate.

Currently, fully ripe betel nuts are fetching about Nu 42 to 45 per kilogramme, while less ripe ones are selling for about Nu 38 to 40 per kilogramme.

Just a few weeks ago, the price was at Nu 40 per kilogramme.

This price increase brings significant relief to farmers in 12 gewogs in Samtse, who are actively engaged in betel nut production, as betel nuts are a vital source of income for them.

Passang Dorji, Samtse

Edited by Sonam Pem

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