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Cardamom traders upset over low cardamom price.

Unlike in the past, theflat rate of cardamom allthrough, without a pennyincrease in months, has leftmany exporters dejected.The current market pricestill remains low at Nu 480per kilogram.The exporters havewitnessed a steady fall inthe cardamom price in thelast five years and they nowdoubt that there could bea syndicate formed acrossthe border that controls theprice of cardamom.Many exporters saidBhutanese cardamomshould be fetching betterprice at this time of theseason.

'But it has notcrossed Nu 500 so far,' saidan exporter.Cardamom, unlike inthe past, is mostly exportedto Bangladesh and some toIndia.

'If there is no syndicate,then the price shouldfluctuate in the market.And by this time, we shouldbe fetching at least Nu1,000 per kilogram for our cardamom,' said SingyeWangdi of Singye Export and Import.

'There are aroundfive Bangladeshi tradersin the town and they gelwith those Indian traderswho also operate in thetown. We suspect thatthey are controlling theprice. Otherwise, it isimpossible that price of aproduct remain constant throughout the export season,' he added. In Tendu andNorgayganggewogsin Samtse, the farmersquote at least Nu 575 perkilogram. Even in Dagan and Tsirang, the rates aremore or less the same. Andat this backdrop, the local cardamom traders are left in doldrums.

'I do not understandwhat to do. There is nopoint doing business if theselling price is equal to buying rate,' said SingyeWangdi. He is also of anopinion that increasingnumber of buyers fromacross the border couldhave led to suddendwindling in thecardamom price.'From some 10cardamom buyers a fewyears ago, today there arearound 40 of them in themarkets. And because ofrising competition amongthem, many have resortedto deceptive practices that directly affect our farmers and us,' said Singye. He mentioned that while some of them deceive the sellers in weighing machine, some could have started formingsyndicate.According to an Indiantrader, the availabilityof the cardamom frommiddle-east countriesin the Indian andBangladeshi marketshas been one factor thatdetermines the price ofBhutanese cardamom.

'Bhutanese cardamomsare raw and that is why itsrate is low. Bhutanese haveto maintain export qualityproduct in order to fetchbetter price,' he said. The president of Bhutan Exporters 'Association, DorjiTshering,said the exporters could beselling old stocks.

'Pricesare determined by themarket force and thereforenothing much we cando. Our price is totallydependent on the yield inNorth-East India,' said thepresident.He added that it ishigh time that our traders explore better marketing strategies to compete in the market.

'If we improvethe whole package ofour products, not justcardamom, I think ourproducts will naturallyfetch good prices. If we seethe demand of cardamomglobally, it is very good,' thepresident added.Regarding thepossibility of syndicateformation, he said it is yetto be confirmed. Also, the president believes that AntiCorruption Commission's action in Phuentsholing has affected the market.'If we are to gobig about cardamomexport, then I think ourgovernment should comeup with initiatives to maintain export quality, 'said DorjiTshering.Meanwhile, the traders and the farmers are stilllooking forward to see theprice soar.

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Publication:Business Bhutan (Thimphu, Bhutan)
Date:Nov 3, 2018
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