Much to the relief of Bhutanese exporters, the Jaigaon Land Customs Station in Jaigaon, India has now officially included four border entry points as legal entry points for Bhutanese agro products.
After discussion with the Indian representatives in Jaigaon this week, the Indian Customs officials in Jaigaon have declared points of Jaigaon near Phuentsholing, Chamurchi near Samtse , Hatisar near Gelephu and Daranga near Samdrup Jongkhar as legal; which means Bhutanese products can now be legally exported through these points.
After the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) from July 2017, exports of agro-based products from Bhutan to India has become illegal without quarantine facilities at these points. The Indian customs have not accepted to allow exports from Bhutan. Till then, export was happening without official documents due to free trade agreement. Cardamom export happened without official documents and illegally without having to declare at the customs check points along the Indo Bhutan borders.
However, after GST regime, since all the formalities were to be completed, the Indian counterpart started asking for documents. Cardamom export came to a halt after Indian authorities have asked for quarantined certificates.
In one case, cardamom weighing one metric ton worth around Nu 0.47mn of Bhutan Business Export Line was recently seized in India without those certificates. Earlier, exporters even had to seek certification from Nepal.
However, BAFRA’s Officer In-charge in Phuentsholing, Phuntsho said the Bhutanese products will now meet all their requirement and export will continue.
“We are comfortable with the parameters set and will issue the certificates,” he said, adding that BAFRA will now conduct sample testing at their laboratory in Yusipang before export.
Now, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had set certain parameters to be tested from BAFRA for the consignments for export through these points. BAFRA has been issuing quarantine certificates for cardamom till now, which they will be continuing henceforth. BAFRA has been issuing required certificates, including certificates of phytosanitary, fit for human consumption and certificates assuring non- radioactive products for any export to Indian and Bangladesh.
Also, now other value added products like milk and fruit juices too need to be certified by BAFRA while going through these points. Other exports like potato which used to go unaccounted will also now have to follow due procedure by providing three certificates except for cardamom, according to Phuntsho. BAFRA has to issue three certificates for export of apple and orange.
BAFRA has been issuing plant quarantine certificates which can be crosschecked. BAFRA, being a member agency of National Plant Protection Convention, the Indian authority can countercheck about the quarantined products through the system.
Now, BAFRA has to issue plant quarantine certificate and certificates fulfilling the requirements of FSSAI. Meanwhile, BAFRA has received a consignment of cardamom which will be sent for sample testing before exporting. BAFRA will do a sample test for the entire season annually for a single product. The sample will be based for one season.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing