As per the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor, although India has had a policy of not exporting fertilizers to neighboring countries since 1973, however, Bhutan imports its fertilizers from India, due to the good relations between the two countries.
Nevertheless, with the introduction of GST and the digitization of all trade systems, the issue of importing chemical fertilizers has surfaced.
“When we called for a quotation, we discovered that due to the strict processes in place, participation was low, and as a result, the price was exorbitant. There were no participants by 2019. However, the government attempted to import through alternative channels, but because of our demand and the fact that there is only one supplier, they offered increased pricing over night, preventing us from importing,” Lyonpo said.
Nonetheless, with the Cabinet directives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoAF) talked with the Government of India (GoI) and was granted permission to import roughly 2,000 metric tons of fertilizers for a one time. However, the question of cost emerged.
Lyonpo said that according to the notification, the commercial rate was added, therefore, one metric ton of fertilizer imported at the commercial rate costs roughly Nu 87,000, which the farmers cannot afford.
“As a result, MoFA has discussed with the GoI on the possibility of issuing a new notification and importing fertilizers, at a subsidized rate,” Lyonpo said.
Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that so far, all of the fertilizers the country has received were illegal. Lyonpo said that GoI has been distributing low-cost fertilizers to its farmers, but the fertilizers were hidden and sold by vendors, without anyone’s knowledge, because the border was open at the time, but now the border is closed.
“Only asparagus can be traded. Everything else is prohibited, which is why we are rectifying everything. And because urea and fertilizers can’t be moved from one state to another in their country, we asked them for 2000 metric tons of urea, which they agreed to deliver at the commercial rate rather than the amount they’ve been providing their farmers,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo added, “As a result, we’ve asked GoI to reconsider the subsidy rate. So the Minister of Economic Affairs is heading to India very soon, and these are the concerns that we will discuss since it is a trade problem. We’ve also asked Bangladesh to offer us with one-time fertilizer, although the price would be a little more than in India, but not as much as the commercial cost. With the next agricultural season, urea is critical. As a result, we are focusing on it on a daily basis.”