Bhutan sees a bumper production of high quality of oranges this year. Still, fruit growers in the country fear the Indian move of scraping high value currency note would not help much to reap the benefit.
Exporters in the agro-based Himalayan country alleged that they are being charged high rates by Indian traders for boxes to pack their oranges. Transporters are also demanding extra charges if paid in Ngultrum [Nu], the Bhutanese currency.
India scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee note in a bid to drive black money away from circulation. The currency of the two neighbors, Bhutanese Nu and Indian rupee, carries same monetary value.
“The business [in Bhutan] was affected by the INR [Indian Rupee] shortage. Production was not good in the past two years. This year it is the demonetization,” Kinley Penjor, an exporter, quoted by the Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel was saying.
Penjor has so far exported 35 truckloads of oranges to Bangladesh.
Bhutan exports oranges normally from November to February each year. Fruit exporters of the country are to pay “miscellaneous” and “other unofficial bills” in Indian currency. If it is paid Ngultrum, the Indian transporters and helping private operators demand double of what the exporters normally pay.
Exporters from the Gelephu orange depot have been paying Nu 19,000 per truck to transport oranges till the Bangladesh border. But this year transporters are demanding more than Nu 20,000 per truck.
Orange farming is the main source of income for the many people in Bhutan. They were expecting a bumper harvest of high-quality oranges this year after continuous losses following a drastic decline in orange production in the past three years. Amid this happy note, the Indian demonetization move has become a cause of concern for Bhutanese exporters.