Export of minerals to Bangladesh has increased by a huge margin in 2017, figures with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) indicated.
Bhutan was able to export about 2.12 million (M) metric tonnes (MT) of minerals worth USD 37.60M last year.
In 2016, Bhutan had exported 4,23,300MT worth USD 10.58M.
BEA’s general secretary, Tshering Yeshi, said the export increased due to increase in export of stone chips and boulders. Stone boulders and stone chips are in huge demand in Bangladesh.
Last year, Bhutan exported 1.84M MT of stone chips and boulders. This alone contributed to earnings of USD 27.64M.
In 2016, Bhutan was able to export 2,49,800MT of stone chips and boulders worth USD 3.65M.
Tshering Yeshi said there was not much change in the export of other minerals like dolomite powder, dolomite lumps, limestone lumps, limestone powder, gypsum boulder and silicon.
Five years ago, Bhutan exported about 217,130.01MT of minerals worth USD 8.24M to Bangladesh. Since then, minerals export has steadily increased each year.
Meanwhile, although the market for cardamom was sluggish with unpredictable prices, cardamom export to Bangladesh increased in 2017.
Bhutan exported 669MT of cardamom in 2017 and earned USD 7.35M. This is the highest quantity of cardamom exported to Bangladesh in the last eight years.
In 2016, Bhutan exported 300MT of cardamom and earned USD 4.5M.
The proprietor of Bhutan Export Business Line (BEBL) based in Phuentsholing, Yeshey Wangchuk, said that although the export increased in 2017 the price was not good.
“Export would increase and that is when the price drops,” he said. “When the quantity is less, the price increases.”
At present, BEBL is exporting cardamom at USD 11,000 per MT to Bangladesh. Yeshey Wangchuk said the price could increase during the festival season in Bangladesh.
The current market price for the cash crop has again dropped in Phuentsholing. A kilogramme (kg) of cardamom fetches between Nu 600 and Nu 640.
In January and February this year, a kg of cardamom fetched between Nu 700 and Nu 840.
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing