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Exported apples to fetch low price this year
Publication Date : 30-07-2013
While the apple export will commence from August 15, one thing that has been confirmed is the drop in price the fruit will fetch this year.
The Bhutan Exporters Association(BEA) in Phuentsholing has already fixed the floor price at 600 ngultrum (US$10) per metric tonnes, a decrease in price from last year, which was fixed at 750 ngultrum.
This was decided at the exporters’ meeting coordinated by the association. Exporters attributed it to increased exchange rate.
The exporters said the USD selling exchange rate this year has remained at 59 ngultrum a dollar as against 60 ngultrum a dollar last year. The exchange rate during the apple export season had remained below 54 ngultrum a dollar.
They said to hold back the importers from Bangladesh, they had to make sure the floor price was decreased.
The exporters said those from Bangladesh, the main importers, would refuse to take the apples if floor price was increased, which was evident last year when they had increased floor price to 750 ngultrum from 700 ngultrum in 2011.
Passang Dorji, an exporter, said because they refused to buy, many exporters had to sell it to India, especially Assam and to local market, fetching prices ranging from 400 ngultrum per box to 1,000 ngultrum per box.
“But this time, we are more worried since we are told India has bumper apple harvest,” he said.
Record with the association showed last year only 430.84MT of apples were exported to Bangladesh, generating US$323,130 as compared to 2,223.76 MT of apples exported generating US$1.55M in 2011.
The apples are mostly bought from Paro, Thimphu and Haa, where exporters booked entire orchard from farmers.
Most of the exporters claimed they managed to export only about three to five trucks to Bangladesh than the usual 40-50 trucks they used to export. Instead many had to export more than 30 trucks to India since they already bought apples from the farmers.
Meanwhile, Tshering Yeshi, the general secretary of the BEA, said according to the National Post Harvest Center in Paro, on an average, August 15 is the best time to harvest apple since it reaches its optimum size, colour and taste.
“We don’t want to compromise the apple quality by exporting unripe apple,” he said. “Last year we exported from August 1 to coincide with the festival in Bangladesh but most importers complained about the quality.”
Tshering Yeshi said they hoped selling apples after festival this year will not affect the demand.
“The importers usually say most people run out of money after the festival, which is almost for a month,” an exporter said. “So we can hope market will be better after two weeks of its commencement when importers will start getting money.”
Meanwhile, Alomgir Hossain, a manager of one of the fruit companies in Bangladesh, said most importers agreed with the floor price. “There is no complain of floor price as it’s better than last year.”
But they doubt about the demand since after the festival, even India and Chinese apple are available in the market.
“And usually their apple is glossy and grading and quality is better than Bhutanese apple,” he said. “Although Bhutanese apple is organic but it is hard and smaller in size.”
The highest export so far was made in 2005 where 3,677.40MT of apples were exported to Bangladesh generating about US$1.65M while 1,066MT was exported to India bringing in US$479,729.