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									AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICES Ministry of Agriculture

Bhutanese Summer Vegetables in Bangladesh: Prospects and the way forward

Thimphu, Kingdom of Bhutan Dhaka, Bangladesh July 2004

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Executive Summary
The Agricultural Marketing Services of the Ministry of Agriculture with the close collaboration of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Dhaka, organised a Trade Display of Bhutanese Summer vegetables and fruit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 8-14 July. The Display clearly demonstrated that there is a demand for certain Bhutanese summer products. The vegetables for which the demand is the highest are asparagus, French or round beans, broccoli, the Bhutanese chilli, cauliflower, ginger, and tomato. The fruit that are in demand at time of the year are peaches and plums. These products are not readily available during the hot summer months in Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh is increasing the range of products that it imports and these products are well known in the market. Bhutanese farmers must be made aware that in order to compete with these off-season imports and some local products, they must supply products of the highest quality that have been harvested at the correct degree of maturity, have the most careful attention paid to post harvest preservation, are properly graded, very carefully packed, and then transported to the market in a refrigerated vehicle or container. Bangladesh is a huge market with strong middle and upper income groups that are willing to pay good money for their products but demand very high quality. A relationship has been developed between the country’s prime supermarket chain, AGORA, and an importer already experienced in working with Bhutanese products. For the targeted products, the following prices were commonly observed in Dhaka at the time of the Trade Display.
Product Average Dhaka prices

Asparagus Beans – French runner Broccoli Cauliflower Ginger Tomato

450 170 420 350 85 58

A careful analysis of the costs and revenues associated with the Trade Display were made. The exercise involved a series of costs that growers are frequently not aware of. These include the need for three lots of repacking along the journey from the grower’s farm to the store in Dhaka, the need for three separate trucks, import taxes, the cost of obtaining import and export documentation, margins for exporters and importers, deterioration in the product, and the retailer’s margin. The analysis has shown that a series of economies can be made, especially if a special refrigerated vehicle is used and the cold chain maintained throughout the entire journey. Taking all these costs and factors into account, in the opinion of the Ministry and Embassy specialists, the nine identified Bhutanese vegetable and fruit can be successfully marketed in Dhaka from the end of May to the end of August each year.

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1.

Introduction

As the strategic marketing plan for summer vegetables in Bhutan has made clear1, a trade display is one of an initial series of step that lead to eventual exporting. Opportunity was made of a trade display being conducted in Dhaka, Bangladesh in early July for a Mission from the Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan to attend. The Mission comprised:  Mr Chhime Tshering, Agricultural Marketing Services, Ministry of Agriculture.  Mr Dorji Rinchen, Agricultural Marketing Services, Ministry of Agriculture. .  Mr Grant Vinning, SNV Horticultural Marketing Specialist. A large number of observations were made in the process of collecting, transporting and displaying the products. From these observations, a series of lessons have been learned. These lessons have been turned into recommendations for subsequent trail marketing and full exporting. At the same time, the Mission made use of the visit to Dhaka to undertake market research in a number of areas. This report deals with the activities. The bulk of the report comprises observations, lessons learned, and recommendations made stemming from Trade Display. It is gratefully acknowledge that funding for the Mission was drawn from the United Nations Development Program’s contribution to the Rural Enterprise Development Programme. Mr Vinning’s expenses were met by SNV’s contribution to the Program.

1

Summer vegetables from Bhutan: high cool clean. A market development strategy. G S Vinning, SNV Marketing Specialist, July 2004

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2.

Trade Display

A three day trade display of 16 vegetables and two fruit was held at AGORA Supermarkets (see Appendix #1) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 8 – 10 July. The purpose of the display was to launch the promotional theme “Summer Fresh from Bhutan”. In addition to the fresh products, a series of product from Bhutan Agro Industries Limited and honey were launched. Actual contact details with AGORA were arranged through Mr Choni Dendup, Counsellor (Commercial) of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Dhaka. Mr Dendup also organised;  Refrigerated vehicle for transport from the Bangladeshi border with India (Burimari) to Dhaka.  Cool store facilities in Dhaka.  Contact with media for publicity on launch day.  Documentation for the movement of product from India to Burimari in India. Agricultural Marketing Services organised:  Purchase of product, and its grading and packing.  Transport to collection point (Thimphu).  Transport to Phuentsholing.  Transfer at Phuentsholing to Indian vehicle.  All documentation through FCB.  Transport to Burimari.  Documentation within India.  Grading and sorting in Dhaka. Selection of product for the trade display was done through the mutual cooperation of Agricultural Marketing Services and the Counsellor (Commercial). The launch was done by the Ambassador to Bhutan, HE Dasho Jigme Tshultim in the presence of the Mr Niaz Rahim, Managing Director, Rahimafrooz Superstores limited (AGORA), representatives from the Unique Group, agents for BAIL, media, and consumers. AGORA produced a Banner: “Royal Bhutan: fresh summer vegetables and exotic food products” and “Royal Bhutan: summer vegetables and stone fruit from Bhutan”. Agricultural Marketing Services produced a brochure under the tag Bhutan Fresh that pointed out the benefits of dealing with Bhutan in general and Bhutanese fresh products in general, and nine product profiles, including individual supply calendars, see Appendix #2. Because the Mission revolved around the launch of a trade display with the objective of increasing public awareness of Bhutan and its potential to supply fresh, clean, and natural products in the middle of the Bangladeshi summer, considerable effort went into promotion. The Royal Bhutanese Embassy organised for more than 30 gift baskets containing samples of Bhutanese products to be sent to various national leaders, members of the diplomatic staff, leaders of business organisations, and members of the media (see Appendix 3). The redness of the plums made them particularly attractive as gift items. With the green peas, the whiteness of the cauliflowers, and purple of the brinjal, the displays made a strong visual impact in terms of colour, size, and shape.

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2.1

Comments on trade display

Bhutan’s launch came a day after the Thai export development bureau’s launched its exotic tropical fruit display. Given the greater financial strength of the Thais, their display was more elaborate and thus in a more superior position within the store compared with that of Bhutan. Both the Thais and BAIL had demonstrators who assisted consumers with product information and sampling. In the case of some of Thailand’s exotic fruit such as mangosteen and rambutan, this activity was needed to actually promote the fruit as they were quite unknown.

By the Saturday, the product was looking extremely flat. Given that by that stage most of the product was seven days old such an experience was to be expected. There were a number of exceptions:  Beans – French type.  Cabbage.  Ginger.  Passionfruit.  Potato.

2.2

Assessment of trade display

It needs to be reminded that the activity at AGORA was a trade display and not a trial marketing. From this perspective, the exercise must be considered a major success on three fronts:  Publicity generated for Bhutan’s clean environment in general and the two suites of products in particular.  Lessons learned for future activity. Generation of interest in importing selected vegetables and fruit from Bhutan.

 Publicity
The launch attracted considerable publicity, see Appendix #4. It is considered that the theme developed in Thimphu, that is, the linking of Bhutan with the production of summer vegetables for Bangladesh, has been well received. This will provide a significant platform as the project moves beyond the display stage into trial marketing and then full marketing.

Lessons learned
The trade display at AGORA provided the opportunity to observe some issues critical to the eventual exporting of Summer Fresh products from Bhutan. From these observations, recommendations have been developed to assist that stage. The remainder of this report shall now concentrate on this phase.

2.3

Observations

Three basic observations can be made from the trade display that allow us to make recommendations for future action:  Products  Length of marketing chain.
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

Pricing.

2.3.1

Products

An assessment of the Bhutanese products made available to the trade display takes two forms:  How did the Bhutanese product handle the journey from Bhutan to Dhaka.  How do Bhutanese products compare with others in the market place. The following vegetables were used in the trade display; Asparagus Beans – French Beans – flat Brinjal Cabbage Cauliflower Chillies – Bhutanese style Chillies – round type Cucumber Ginger Pea Potato Pumpkin Radish Tomato Zucchini Turnips were taken to Dhaka but the sample so small that it was not displayed. Two fruit were displayed; plums and passionfruit.

2.3.1.1

How did Bhutanese product handle the journey to Dhaka

The products were subjected to two levels of high stress:  Time from picking to final display.  Adverse storage conditions. A calendar of the time involved is shown below:
Day Activity

Day # 1 Day #2 Day #3 Day #4 Day #5 Day #6 Day #7 Day #8

Farmers harvest and commence accumulation Move to collection point at Thimphu Pack and transport to Phuentsholing Move to Burimari Arrive into cool store Burimari Trade display - Dhaka Trade display - Dhaka Trade display - Dhaka

The following is an assessment of the out-turn of the product after the eight days: In terms of actual marketing as distinct from trade display, a trade period of three days is considered to represent the three days usually required by retailers and end-consumers.

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Product

Out-turn

Asparagus Brinjal Beans – French type Beans – flat type Chilli – round type Chilli – Bhutanese type Cauliflower

Cucumber

Ginger Passionfruit

Pea Plum

Potato Pumpkin Radish Tomato

Poor out-turn. Losses around 50 percent Good out-turn. Losses less than 10 percent Excellent out-turn. Very little loss. Average out-turn. Became very flat and dry. Actual rot losses very low. Average out-turn. Losses around 20 percent but these were harvested well before the other product Good out-turn. Losses around 15 percent. Poor out-turn. Losses around 30 percent. High incidence of bruising and discolouration caused by rubbing as well as high levels of rot. Average out-turn. Losses in the form of browning and thus market unacceptability as distinct from actual rot. Around 50 percent. Excellent out-turn. Very low loss, less than 5 percent. Maintained bold appearance throughout the trade display. Excellent out-turn. Very low loss. A problem is the general unawareness that when the passionfruit is the most visually unattractive, that is wrinkled and shrunken, is when organoleptically they are most attractive as the sugars are at their highest. Average out-turn. Became dry, actual losses low, appearance poor. Good out-turn. Sample consisted of a mixture of full colour, medium colour and breaking colour. Low loss of around 15 percent. Excellent out-turn. Loss less than 5 percent. Excellent out-turn. Loss less than 5 percent. Excellent out-turn. Loss less than 5 percent. Poor out-turn. The sample consisted of a mix of green, breaking and good colour. The green product did not ripen, obviously picked too early. Total losses around 60 percent.

Lessons learned The out-turn record suggests the following products can stand the eight days from harvest to eventual consumption;  Brinjal  Beans – French  Cabbage  Chilli – Bhutanese type  Ginger  Plum  Potato  Pumpkin  Radish

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2.3.1.2

Availability of other products

Visits to three local markets and two of other retailers were made in order to assess availability of products at this time of the year.
Product Availability

Asparagus Brinjal Beans – French Beans – flat type Cabbage Cauliflower Chilli – Bhutanese style Chilli – hot type Cucumber Ginger Passionfruit Pea Potato Plum Pumpkin Radish

Only seen in two stores. Appears to have been air-flown in. Tightly wrapped in cling film to keep in moisture. Readily available in the green, purple, long, and round forms Not commonly available. Not commonly available. White flat cabbage readily available. Available but not greatly so. Not commonly available. Available ones were green coloured Not commonly seen. Readily available. Most were white to light green and more visually appealing compared with the Bhutanese product. Product from China available in stores and markets. Most product was smaller than Bhutan’s and appeared to be more shrivelled and dried. Not seen. Not seen. Readily available in stores and markets Only one other lot were seen. These were larger and much darker, towards prune-like. Readily available. More common in markets than stores. Yes but not commonly so. Thought there would have been more at KoMarket, the Korean store because of radish’s role in making the national dish kim chi. Readily in stores and markets. Appeared excellent quality with full ripe colour, evenly shaped and sized.

Tomato

On the whole the product seen in the markets had a superior appearance to it. This could have been due to the constant application of a fine spray. In contrast, the store product in the main seemed flat. A comparison of prices is provided in Appendix #5. Lessons learned Based on product availability, the products which Bhutan has a seasonal advantage are:  Asparagus.  French Beans (round type).  Cauliflower  Chillies – Bhutanese style  Ginger  Peas The above analysis indicates, separately, what Bhutanese products can survive the journey and with which products does Bhutan have a seasonal advantage.

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The analysis now turns to the second set of lessons observed during the operationalisation of the trade display, that is developing an effective marketing chain.

2.4

Length of marketing chain

A detailed analysis of the marketing chain used to bring the product to Dhaka for the trade display needs to be done in order to assess what action can be undertaken to reduce the losses and costs noted above. The marketing chain in the trade display exercise was considered unduly long. The chain itself is presented below: Step Action Comment Action
#1 #2 #3 Grower harvests Grower packs Grower delivers to centralised collection Collection Pack for transport Transport to Phuentsholing Transfer to Indian vehicle Documentation Transport to Burimari Border documentation

Weight (kg)
100 95 95 Need to remove field heat Grower to clean and grade Appropriate transport

Purchase of tokris (bamboo baskets) Transport

#4 #5

#6 #7 #8 #9 #10

Storage costs Purchase of tokris, rice straw for insulation Transport costs Handling costs Agent’s fee Transport costs

95 90

To be cool / covered

90 85 85 85 85

To be at night to gain benefit of cool Has to be done before border gate shuts

Close on 5 hours were spent waiting. The vegetables were in an unprotected vehicle. Luckily it was raining and not blazing sun.

#11 #12 #13 #14

#15 #16

#17 #18

Border Security Force inspection Duty to enter Bangladesh Clearance fees Transfer to Bangladesh vehicle Transport to Dhaka Additional charges – grading, repacking Storage charges Transport to store

80 80 80 80

80 Purchase of cartons 80 To include percentage loss associated with spoilage

80 80

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#19 #20

Receival into store Store mark-up

Loss between 10 – 20 percent

Average 30 %

70

Lesson learned
The implementation of a through cool-chain logistics will greatly reduce the losses and costs noted above. As the above demonstrates, 100 kg provided by the farmer results in an eventual sale of just 70 kgs. this shows the critical role of the farmer in several regards;  picking appropriate quality.  ensuring appropriate on-farm post harvest preservation.  ensuring appropriate on-farm packaging. Bearing in mind that the final volume available for sale is only 60 percent of the initial weight, the 70 kgs has to support the costs of the 100 kgs. If the farmer starts with too high a price then the eventual loading onto the 70 kgs finally sold will result in a price just far too high for the final consumers. Farmers must be conscious of the need to keep their prices reasonable. As stated the Counsellor (Commercial) made available a refrigerated vehicle for the journey Burimari to Dhaka. Given that it took nearly five hours to finally clear the checkpoint, this facility provided invaluable protection from the monsoonal heat and humidity. If the same vehicle could have been made available at Thimphu, then two major issues would have followed:  Protected by an integrated cool chain, losses would have been much lower.  Rehandling charges and associated damages at Phuentsholing and Burimari would have been eliminated, albeit there will be higher charges associated with the refrigerated vehicle. It is also noted that the temperature set in the refrigerated vehicle was 8°C. Fr some products this could have been too high and for others, too low. At the same time within the vehicle there were products whose ripening process may have accelerated the maturity of some but hindered it of others. Greater attention needs to be paid to co-loading and temperature management.

2.5

Economic analysis

Having analysed the lessons from the trade display from the perspectives of (a) product (b) cool chain logistics, the next step is to provide an economic analysis. Two steps are involved:  What are the cost lessons learned from the trade display.  What are the revenue questions learned form the trade display. Economic analysis on selected summer vegetables were constructed assuming that the particular vegetable is transported in a fully loaded 3 MT capacity refrigerated truck. The revenues and costs are based on the existing farm gate price (circa July 2004), retail prices in supermarkets catering to the higher end of the Dhaka market, and other costs. It is noted that the above analysis is based on fully loaded vehicles. When transporting the produce from Thimphu to Phuentsholing, and from Phuentsholing to Burimari, the trucks
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were loaded to less than a third of their capacity. For the journey from Burimari to Dhaka the truck was loaded o less than half of its capacity. The greater the load, then the lower the per unit costs because the total cost, that is hire of the vehicle, does not change. However, the temptation to maximise the load within the vehicle in order to reduce per unit transport costs must be resisted. This is because vital space is needed to ensure optimum air flow and thus optimum use of the refrigeration facility.

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Table 1. Economic Analysis of Selected Summer Vegetables from Bhutan into Dhaka. Sl. No. Items Cauliflower I Net Returns: Quantity (10-20% rejects) Retail Price (Nu./kg) Total Returns Cost: 1. Material Cost:

Asparagus

Broccoli

Beans (round type)

Chilli

Ginger

Tomato

1920 kgs Nu. 300/kg 576000

1680 kgs Nu. 320/kg 537600

1680 kgs Nu. 310/kg 520800

2700 kgs Nu.110/kg 297000

2250 kgs Nu.140/kg 315000

2700 kgs Nu. 65/kg 175500

2400 kgs Nu. 40/kg 96000

II

Commodity Quantity Farm gate price Cost of commodity Packaging cost (200 cartoon boxes @ Nu. 60/pcs)) Other packaging materials 2. Labour Cost: Sorting, Grading and packaging cost at the Collection point Loading at Thimphu Loading and unloading at Burimari 3. Transportation cost: Thimphu to Phuntsholing Phuntsholing to Burimari Burimari to Dhaka Cold storage to Store 4. Storage Charges: Cold Store Charges in Dhaka 5. Documentation Charges: Cost of documents Clearing Agent Charges at Burimari 6. Taxes: Tax (@ 33%) 7. Weight Loss: Value of weight loss (10-20%) Total Cost Gross Revenue 8. Importers and Retailers Margin (80%) Net Revenue

2400 kgs Nu. 25/kg 60000 12000 2000 800 600 300 7000 5000 12,000.00 1000 6000 355 800 19800 12000 139655 436345 349076 87269

2100 kgs Nu. 50/kg 105000 7000 2000 1000 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1500 8400 355 800 34650 21000 206605 330995 264796 66199

2100 kgs Nu.50/kg 105000 7000 2000 1000 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1500 8400 355 800 34650 21000 206605 314195 251356 62839

3000 kgs Nu.15/kg 45000 12000 2000 800 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1000 6000 355 800 14850 6750 114455 182545 146036 36509

2500 Nu.15/kg 37500 12600 2000 800 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1000 6300 355 800 12375 5625 104255 210745 168596 42149

3000 Nu.40/kg 120000 12000 2000 800 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1000 6000 355 800 39600 18000 225455 -49955 Loss Loss

3000 Nu.15/kg 45000 9000 2000 800 600 300 7000 5000 12000 1000 6000 355 800 14850 9000 113705 -17705 Loss Loss

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2.6 Recommendations
From the above observations of the operationalisation of the trade display and being cognisant of the lessons learned from those observations, four suites of recommendations can be made. Fr convenience, these are categorised as:  Product.  Preservation.  Pricing.  Program.

2.6.1
 o o o

Product
A three-phase market development strategy should be adopted: Phase #1 – balance of the 2004 season, that is July to September Phase #2 – the 2005 season, starting in May. Phase #3 – longer term exploration of product possibilities.

Phase #1


2004 Season

Bhutan continues to supply in the immediate period, that is the balance of the 2004 season considered to be July through to September , the following vegetables: o Beans – French. o Chillies – Bhutanese type. o Cauliflower.

Phase #2

2005 Season

 For the 2005 season, defined as the period May through to September, Bhutan put in place the systems needed to supply the following products: o Asparagus. o Beans – French type. o Broccoli o Chillies - Bhutanese type. o Cauliflower. o Peach o Plums

Phase #3 – Longer term
Discussions should take place with the importer (see Program) as to products that he would like to import and which Bhutan may be able to supply.

Other Product-based recommendations:
 Growers to lower their prices.  Specific product recommendations include: o Asparagus:  Must be kept cold. Whilst iced - polystyrene boxes are the ultimate; some method of retaining moisture has to be developed.  Stems to be long enough to allow frequent trimming that assist water uptake that retains fresh appearance.  Trimming to be angled and not horizontal in order to maximise the water uptake capability. o Beans – French. Stem to be retained and not cut. o Cauliflower:
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    

Crowns to be not more than 18 cm in diameter. At least 5 cms of core be retained for final trimming before entering store in order to convey a fresh whole image. Methods to protect during transport to prevent rubbing to be developed. Ribs allowed. Size to be around 500 g each.

2.6.2


Preservation
Growers wishing to participate in subsequent steps, that is trial marketing and full exporting, should be made aware of the following principles: o The imperative needs to reduce field heat as soon as practicable after harvest. Simple use of farm-base streams could be employed. o The need to harvest as early in the day as feasible. o The danger posed by sun and the benefit of shade. o Enhanced on-farm graing. o Packaging to be more horizontal rather than vertical in order to reduce load crush. An immediate purchase be made of a refrigerated van comparable with what was used to convey the product from Burimari to Dhaka. The van should have lugs half way up on which horizontal dividers can be placed on which products can be stored in order to reduce the transport per unit costs but without crushing the bottom layers. Investigations to be made regarding the appropriate temperature settings relevant to the products that will be exported. Investigations should be made regarding appropriate co-loading of products. Investigations should be made into replacing tokres with other packaging medium. If these are deemed inappropriate, a more efficient tokre to be designed that has a more squat base and lower height in order to make greater use of floor space during transportation.

     

2.6.3


Pricing
Agricultural Marketing Services should develop a detailed pricing schedule for all export destined products. These recommendations to be used as a basis for negotiations in final retail and other price settings in Dhaka.

2.6.4
    

Program
The Unique Group be appointed as import agent. In the immediate future, Food Corporation of Bhutan be designated as the exporter with the eventual aim being to have exports conducted through the private sector. Agricultural Marketing Services act as the facilitator within Bhutan in the short term for the Unique group in this endeavour. For the balance of the 2004 season, the first trial marketing shipment occur by the end of August. Agricultural Marketing Services will develop a supply calendar that will be one of the basis of discussions with the unique group as to supply possibilities.
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

The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka works with the Government of Bangladesh to remove the duty that Bhutanese products must pay to enter Bangladesh.

2.7

Immediate action

The following immediate steps are recommended:  Detailed price profiles be developed as a basis for negotiation with the Unique Group.  That Food Corporation of Bhutan be made the export agent and that it commence the preparation of the appropriate paperwork.  That a detailed production availability profile be established for the three crops targeted for export for the balance of the 2004 season, that is Cauliflower, French beans and Bhutanese chillies.  That detailed recommendations be sought for the three vegetables from the Post Harvest group regarding: o Optimum maturity for harvest o On-farm methods of reducing field heat. o Preferred temperature and humidity storage conditions.  Grades be established for the three vegetables.  Appropriate transport be arranged for the movement of the three vegetables.  The Bangladeshi Ministry of Finance provide duty-free entrance status for the three vegetables.  That the first commercial; trail shipment of the three vegetables commence by the second week of August, 2004.

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3.
3.1

Apples
Bangladeshi apple situation

Bangladesh’s apple imports have increased rapidly, albeit erratically in the ten years to 20022.
APPLES - Bangladesh. Import volume and value, 1992 - 2002
Tonnes US$ / kg

35000 30000 25000 20000

0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3
Volume Value

15000 10000 5000 0 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 0.2 0.1 0

In 2002 it imported 23 329 tonnes, the second highest level on record, at an average annual CIF price of US$0.32 / kg, the second lowest price over the same period.

Bhutan
Bhutan’s share of the Bangladeshi market is declining in relative terms3.
APPLES - Bangladesh. Bhutan's share of total imports: 1992 - 2001
Tonnes 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000
Bhutan All Imports

The data shows that the share in 2001, that is 4 percent, is the lowest over the nine years.

In terms of prices, Bhutanese apples receive a lower price than that of the average imports.

2 3

Bangladeshi data drawn from the International Trade Centre’s Library, Geneva. Bhutanese data drawn from the trade data of the Ministry of Finance. Data only available up to 2001. July 2004

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APPLES - Bangladesh. Annual CIF prices into Bangladesh: Bhutan and all sources. 1992 - 2001
US $ / kg 0.6 0.5 0.4
Bhutan

0.3 0.2 0.1 0 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000

All Imports

In 2001, the average was US$0.28 / kg whilst Bhutan received US$0.27 / kg. Except for the 1996 season this is the narrowest gap over the nine years. The following factors must be taken into account when comparing Bhutanese prices with the average CIF prices:   Bhutanese apples are favoured by duty-free entrance whereas other sources have to pay duties up to 65 percent. This means that other sources cost much more. Other sources arrive in at least 20’ and even 40’ containers. These must be stored with comparatively high storage costs. Bhutanese apples arrive in smaller loads, usually 7 tonnes and thus can be distributed without storage. This should mean an effective lower price for the Bhutanese products. In the principle period of supply for Bhutan, that is August – October, it is competing with a fresh product against cold-storage southern hemisphere supplies from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This should favour Bhutanese products. Against this is the fact that it is competing with fresh Chinese products.



In July 2004, the following prices were noted in the market place: South Africa o Golden Delicious o Red Chinese o Golden Delicious o Fuji

taka 80 /kg take 90 /kg

taka 90 /kg take 90 /kg

Lessons
The above analysis clearly indicates that, despite its proximity to the Bangladeshi market, export from Bhutan to Bangladesh is declining.

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There could be three suites reasons for this:  The Exporters may be diversifying their market destination.  Bhutan’s own production had declined and with this decline in gross production a lower volume is available for export.  Bhutan is less competitive for reasons related to the likes of: o Pricing o Variety o Packaging o Entry point into the marketing chain. However, there are several remedies to increase direct exports to Bangladesh.  Reducing the marketing chain so as to protect the product against undue perishability and thus remain competitive against the cold stored products.  Being price competitive.  Improve packaging and final product presentation through the likes of waxing and socks.  Making more frequent smaller loads so as to assist the final seller with lower storage costs.  Working higher up the marketing chain that is more directly with end retailers.  Adjusting production in terms of varieties, colour, shape and size.  Internal efforts within Bhutan to boost production by addressing local production problems.

3.2

Mission visit

A visit was made to a delegation of the Bangladesh Fresh Fruit Importers Association at Bhadamtoli, Dhaka. The Dhaka importers stated that they would be importing apples in 2004 from Bhutan. However as of yet they have not commenced negotiations with the exporters. This is unfortunate, as they know the exporters and one would have expected that after 10 years of a relationship would have been established that facilitated early negotiations. With regard to Mandarin and produce from central and eastern Bhutan, the importers requested the opening of another land port for Bhutan. The importers saw this action in terms of reducing transport costs and providing another outlet apart from Bogra and Dhaka. However this step is in accord with the lessons learned from the analysis of the apple import data. The site of Dalu / Nakugoan was specifically mentioned. Mention was also made of the fact that at the border crossing at Changrabanda a line is designated for the movement of just perishable products. However, often trucks with nonperishable items get into this line and thus cause delay to the perishable products. Again, this issue is in accordance with the lessons learned from the analysis of import data. Maintenance of the dedicated perishable line should be brought up with the Indian authorities as recommended.

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4.

Honey

Bhutanese honey was well received at the trade display. The current agent for BAIL products has expressed a strong interest in being the agent for such products. He is interested in acquiring the following this year as the first consignment:  100 cartons of large honey.  100 cartons of small honey.

Recommendations
The current BAIL agent be confirmed as the agent for BEEKAB. The Agent has expressed an interest in visiting Bhutan in August. All steps should be taken to assist his visit. AMS in discussion with BEEKAB to provide an indicative ex-Burimari price for the Honey as soon as possible.  

5.

Commercial Attaché

This Report has highlighted the critical role played by the Commercial Attaché, Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Dhaka in organising the Trade Display at AGORA Supermarkets and the associated coordination of logistic support like providing appropriate transport, cool storage, import documentation and promotion. For further promotion and development of the Bhutanese vegetable’s export market in Bangladesh, the following further responsibilities of the Commercial Attaché are identified:  Within the Framework of the WTO and Bilateral Trade Agreement, continue to addressing the imbalance duty question of what Bhutan must pay for its products to enter Bangladesh that stands in stark contrast to the duty free admission that Bangladeshi products enjoy into Bhutan. Addressing the issue of reducing the cumbersome paperwork associated with exporting into Bangladesh. Works towards recommending and developing an alternate entry point in addition to Burimari. Continuous monitoring and addressing the issue of delays at the entry point of the perishable items. Maintenance of the momentum established during the Trade Display of Bhutan being a source of clean, safe, and healthy foods. Continue to befriend the press and be friendly with the press and to promote the Bhutanese products as “Fresh Summer Vegetables”. As and when required, act on behalf of the exporter as inspector especially relating to complaints on product that may have been deteriorated.
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     

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Agricultural Marketing Services should do all it can to support the role of the Commercial Attaché. This should include providing the office with all reports and data relevant to agricultural marketing both those meaning from Agricultural Marketing Services as well as others that AMS may become aware of.

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Appendix #1

AGORA Supermarkets
Previously, food was acquired from traditional retailers and municipal corporation markets. These are now being replaced by western style convenience stores and supermarkets, see below. Store type
Roadside stalls.

Features
Small – 30 – 100 sq.ft. Constitute 75 percent of food retail sales.. Heavily village based. Typified by poor to nil refrigeration, limited choice, long hours and bargaining. Only imported product dealt with are very cheap products from India (especially in the border regions), Myanmar, and Thailand. In urban and semi urban areas. Tend to specialise - fish, meat, fruit, vegetables. Will trade in imported product. Handle about 20 percent of food retail sales. In upper middle class urban areas. Currently number around 250. Clientele is upper middle class and upper class Bangladeshis, and foreigners. Stock heavily imported foods, especially processed foods. Constitute round 5 percent of food retail sales. Started to emerge about five years ago. Sector now comprises around 30 stores. About two thirds of these are in Dhaka. Market less than one percent of food retail sales.

Method of acquiring food Local wholesalers

Municipal corporation markets

Local wholesalers, importers.
Importers and distributors with competent storage. Will top-up with local supplies.

Convenience stores

Supermarkets

Importers and distributors with competent storage.

Convenience stores are rapidly emerging to service Bangladesh’s middle and upper classes and the expatriate population associated with embassies, long term consultants, and various international agencies. The following is a list of convenience stores in Dhaka as far as we can construct. Clearly it is not definitive. Store AGORA Rahimafrooz Superstores Dhali Super Store Ettadi General Store Family Need Fortune City Gulshan General Store HNP Family Mart Meena Bazar Nandan Food and Beverage OHIBA General Store
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Comment Based in Dhanmondi Based in Gulshan

Based in Gulshan Based in Gulshan Based in Dhanmondi Based in Gulshan Based in Dhanmondi
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One Stop Mall Pick and Pay Superstore Rajanigandha Shop n Save

Stop n Shop Superfresh

This is a joint venture. It is possible that it is linked to Shop n Save of Singapore that in turn is linked with Delhaize le Lion of Belgium Based in Dhanmondi

AGORA AGORA currently has two stores. Grant Vinning understands that there are plans to have around 24 stores nation-wide by the end of 2010. The company is under the umbrella of Rahimafrooz Group. The group is the market leader in the automotive and industrial batteries and also has business interests in power supply, environmental cars etc. Agora was first established at Dhanmondi two years ago and the Gulshan branch is a year old. Agora followed the step of new trend of supermarket concepts introduced by others. They believe that within 5 years supermarkets will dominate the shopping scenario as happened in neighbouring countries. The philosophies of the company are to: - be highly customized - sell value-added products - sell ready to eat products - sell broad range of fresh produces Each supermarket is around 7,000 sqft on one floor with parking attached. AGORA has its own cold storage facilities with 7-10 freezers in each store. Market information The concept of the supermarkets is based on price for quality. Where possible AGORA’s pricing policy is to sell at prices similar to local market prices. They sell a wide range of products – ranging from speciality items, fresh produce available all the year round (eg, mango) as well as high quality traditional sweets. They find that they cannot compete with commodities or mainstream products easily available in the typical stalls and retail outlets. They have developed a system to monitor commodity price fluctuations through benchmarking big bazaars and super stores. Their target customers are those in the upper and upper middle class. The company’s CEO has a longer-term vision to target a customer base and include people from the lower income bracket. Product information They currently handle more than 16,000 items. They sell a wide array of imported goods – but they do not import directly but buy from importers.
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Roughly of their suppliers 20-30% are fresh producers. This segment has had a good response from their customers and sales are increasing in both stores. They have also started to undertake some processing for value–addition and presently pre-packing salads and vegetables Contract production system Presently they have 420 suppliers under the broad categories of perishable and nonperishables. Among the suppliers 5-10 percent direct importers. A few suppliers (3-4) have direct link with farmers. It is understood that AGORA finds it cumbersome dealing with such a range of suppliers. In addition it finds the supply chain to be very unreliable. It is for these two reasons that it is understood that once AGORA reaches a critical minimum mass in its purchasing capabilities, currently estimated at four stores, then AGORA will concentrate on using aggregators in Singapore to supply most of its requirements. To what extent fresh products will feature in this is unknown,

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Appendix #2

Promotional material developed by Agricultural Marketing Services

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Appendix #3

Recipients of gift baskets of Bhutanese Summer Fresh products
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. H.E. Prof. Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed, President, People’s Republic of Bangladesh. H.E. Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister. H.E. Mr. M. Saifur Rahman, Finance Minister. H.E. Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Altaf Hossain Choudhury, Commerce Minister. H.E. M. Morshed Khan, Foreign Minister. H.E. Mr. Shamsher M. Chowdhury, BB, Foreign Secretary. H.E. Mr. Md. Aminur Rahman, Commerce Secretary. Mr. Khairuzzaman Chowdhury, Chairman, National Board of Revenue. Brig. General Sheikh Md. Monirul Islam, Chief of Protocol. Mr. Abudul hye, Media Consultant. Mr. Enayetullah Khan, Editor, New age. Mr. Anisur Rahaman, New age. H.E. Mrs. Veena Sikri, High Commissioner of India. H.E. Mme. Olga Y. Malginova, Ambassador, Embassy of the Russian Federation. H.E.Mme. chandralatha Munashinghe, High Commissioner of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Dhaka. H.E. Mme. Manzar Shafiq, High Commissioner, High Commission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan H.E. Mr. Mohammad Shahta Zarab, (Dean of Diplomatic Crop) Ambassador of the state of Palestine. H.E. Mr. Thane Myint, Ambassador of the Union of Myanmar. H.E. Mr. KYU-HYUNG LEE, Ambassador of the Republic of South Korean. H.E. Mr. Matsuhiro Horiguchi, Ambassador of Japan. H.E. Mr. Chai Xi, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Gene V. George, Chagre d’ Affaires, Embassy of United States of America.
July 2004

16.

17.

18. 18. 19. 20. 21.

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22. 23.

H.E. Mr. Bhagirath Basnet, Ambassador of Royal Nepalese Embassy. H.E. Dato Haji Abdul Mokti Haji Md. Daud, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam. H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Opposition Leader, Bangladesh Awami Leagu, Dhaka. Mr. Abdul Kalam Azad, Press Secretary, Bangladesh Awami Leagu, Dhaka. Mr. Abdul jalil, Secretary General, Bangladesh Awami Leagu, Dhaka. Mr. Kazi Zaffarulla, Presidium Member, Bangladesh Awami leagu, Dhaka. Mr. Saber Hossain Choudhury, Political Secretary, Bangladesh Awami League, Dhaka. Professor Abdul Hye, Dhaka University, Dhaka. Mr. Aziz Mohammad Bhai, Gulshan – II, Dhaka. Mr. Mohiuddin Babar, Secretary General, Bangladesh – Bhutan Cultural Forum, Dhaka.

24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31.

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Appendix #4

Publicity arising from Trade Display
NEW NATION 9 JULY 2004 BUSINESS

Bhutanese agri products launched in Bangladesh By Roving Correspondent Jul 8, 2004, 12:55

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Dasho Jigme Tshultim the Ambassador of Bhutan to Bangladesh yesterday formally launched sale of fresh summer Bhutanese vegetables and stone fruits in Bangladesh. The launching ceremony was held at 'Agora' supermarket in Gulshan. In the presence of the delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Royal Government of Bhutan was the first country to recognise independent Bangladesh. Two countries have very close ties of friendship and cooperation. The official delegates had personally accompanied the consignment all the way from Thimpu to Dhaka demonstrating their governments interest to develop further the trade relationship with Bangladesh. All Bhutanese vegetables are grown using natural seeds. Bhutan's high altitude reduces the likelyhood of damaging pests and diseases and a reliance on harmful chemicals for human cansumption. In Bhutan almost all vegetables are grown under rainfall environment. Water from streams and rivers coming down from high Himalayas is also used for irrigation. The Bhutanese vegetables are available include beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, radish and the famous Bhutanese chilli. Stone fruits Apricot, peach, Plum, and chrry. Agro-processed products from the Bhutan Agro Industries Limited are juices, jams, and pickles which are known since long to local consumers. Interestingly, mountain spring water which is harvested at over 9000 feet in a pristine environment resulting in the collection of clean and crystal clear product are also on sale. Locally bottled mineral water users will feel the difference while drinking pure spring water from the Himalayan mountain range. The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka and the Ministry of Agriculture in Thimpu organised the show for marketing their agricultural products on regular basis.

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DAILY STAR 9 July 2004 Business

Bhutan seeks free trade deal with Bangladesh Star Business Report Bhutan yesterday sought a bilateral free trade agreement with Bangladesh with provision of zero duty access of its products to Bangladesh market. Bhutanese Ambassador in Dhaka Dasho Jigme Tshultim said Bangladeshi products have the duty free access to Bhutanese market while there is 65 percent import duty on average for Bhutanese products to enter Bangladesh market. "A complementary trade is possible when both the countries have tariff free access to each other's market," the ambassador said. Bhutan can export fruits and vegetables to Bangladesh in summer while Bangladesh can do vice versa in winter taking the advantage of the climate, he added. His observations came during the launching ceremony of weeklong festival of Bhutanese fresh summer vegetables and stone fruits along with agro-processed products that started at supermarket Agora's Gulshan outlet in Dhaka. The Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Dhaka, in conjunction with Bhutan's Ministry of Agriculture and Agora, a sister concern of Rahimafrooz Group, organised the festival. The Bhutanese envoy said the festival aims to promote fresh and natural fruits and vegetables grown in high altitude from GMO (genetically modified organism) free seeds. Narrating the scopes to penetrate local market with Bhutanese agro products, Niaz Rahim, managing director of Rahimafrooz Superstores Ltd said, "Tax hike is obstructing direct import and encouraging illegal trade even in the food imports." Chhime Tshering, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan, said they expect 5 to 15 percent average profit from fresh fruits and vegetable export to Bangladesh. A range of vegetables such as asparagus, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, chillies, brinjal, ginger, peas, potato, pumpkin, radish, tomato, and fruits as well as processed products like jam, pickle and honey are put on display at the festival.

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Bhutan: Our tested friend
As war broke out between rivals India and Pakistan in the first week of December 1971, even as Bangladesh's War of Liberation was going on in full swing, she announced the recognition (the first country to do so) of our newborn country, writes Abdul Hye
The monsoon has already set in and, will soon affirm its ferocity. Bangladesh is now in the grip of rain, thundershowers, causing some of our mighty rivers to overflow. It's ferocity will reach as the weeks roll ahead, inviting some of the mighty rivers to swell, staking the miseries of the commoners to mount. Dhaka city is well accustomed to heavy downpour. The rains send shivers of alarm to its million capacity citizens, getting holed up! The frequent knee-deep waters are no joy except for the street urchins to wade and splash, as if, in a make shift pond. A regular punishment to the city dwellers! Has been subjected to, for decades! The city fathers have not come up with ideas of coping with the sewerage blockades, despite ripples of promises now and then. The real state owners have pounced savagely on every piece of vacant lands and derelict canals! An unplanned growth of multistoried multiplied the miseries of the sewerage to get choked. In an early pre dawn, the rains came heavily on 24 June. I had two courtesy calls to make, one with the new JICA representative and the other with the new Bhutanese Ambassador. As we drove as early as 7 in the morning to get 'on air' with the morning news bulletin on Radio, the vehicle waded cutting the stagnant waters, sending ripples of tiny waves hitting the blocks of walls across the pavement. I valued the exciting moments quietly. The driver showed his marksmanship on the steering. The sun was not there to screw my eyes. The drab thin crowds wading on the flooded pavement streamed off hurriedly to the nearest buses towards their civil service desk. A variety of vehicles, rickshaws, CNG cut the edges of the waters like a salmon battling upstream. I bought a newspaper as I reached the broadcasting house. A quick glance and, surveyed the headline stories of the day. The bulletin over at 8 AM, rounded off my JICA courtesy call with the new country representative. A kind of friendly familiarization that have gone exceedingly well, over the last 20-25 years with ambassadors/diplomats around the world, aimed at lifting the country's image and profile. I sped off to the Gulshan Chancery house of the Bhutanese Ambassador. The heavy pre dawn shower almost soaked my safari. A young and outstanding diplomat! I apologized of my lateness! The frightening snarling traffic in its majestic grid pattern! Dressed in a humble faded blue boiler suit he conducted me with greetings and smiles. A diplomat of knowledge, intent on harnessing his experience in promoting economic ties with Bangladesh. This was his priority, he added with conviction. A comfortable sort of gentleman with whom everyone felt at home .His parameters of hospitality extended beyond the boundaries of his large elegant chancery room. I drank the cup of coffee. We had a brief reminisce of our glorious liberation war. Bhutan stood beside us as we raced to liberate our country. As war broke out between rivals India and Pakistan in the first week of December 1971, even as Bangladesh's War of Liberation was going on in full swing, she announced the recognition (the first country to do so) of our newborn country. An extraordinary feat of courage for a tiny country! The sun had long set on the British Empire. Both India and Burma gone. The tiny Himalayan land locked Kingdom; Bhutan escaped the colonial taste of the British Raj. Our relations at all levels got off to a flying start. Economic ties were building up progressively. Apples, oranges, fruits, jams, jellies, variety of chutneys, pickles soon made a niche in our market, with increasing popularity. Druk Air has long established its links between Thimpu and Dhaka. Currently it is suspended. Bangladesh and Bhutan have a strong and continuing relationship. The Ambassador emphasized this will strengthen further. Trade and commerce form the basis of our bonds to compatible rewarding. Matchmaking entrepreneurs make the best use of their potentials. Rural Enterprise Development Program July 2004

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In a significant move, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Royal Government of Bhutan through the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, has made arrangements to launch fresh summer vegetables and stone fruits and agro processed products fro Bhutan Agro industries Ltd in Dhaka on 8th of July 2004, at Agora. Given the 'go' and if all goes well, consumers in Bangladesh may have access to vegetables cultivated under most pristine conditions, natural rainfall and waters melting from the snow of the Himalayas. Bhutan's high altitude reduces the likelihood of damaging pest and, devoid of harmful chemicals. Bangladesh can source its supply of summer vegetables from Bhutan, subject to friendly mutual terms and reference. Beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, radish, cabbage, carrot ginger, peas, beet root, tomato, asparagus, famous Bhutanese green chili while fruits like peach, apricot, passion fruit can be a good substitute in the off season. Bhutan is looking forward to market the mountain spring water harvested at over 9000 feet on the Himalayan in a pristine environment. It is clean and crystal. It is widely believed to be an instance of the best mineral water in the world. One hopes, that such cooperation, especially amongst neighbouring countries, will benefit the peoples of the South Asian region. The writer is a media consultant and broadcaster

Fresh Bhutanese vegetables for Bangladeshis

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Posted on Friday, July 09 @ 16:59:59 CDT BST
Bangladesh : 9 July, 2004 - Bangladeshis will now get to pick fresh mountain vegetables and stone fruits straight from the supermarket shelves grown in the pristine environment of Bhutan.

The Bhutanese ambassador Dasho Jigme Tshultim at the launching of Bhutanese vegetables in a Dhaka supermarket

Fresh Bhutanese vegetables and fruits like beans, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, chillies, plums, and passion fruits will be among many others to be exported to Bangladesh as "summer produce". Along with it, the agro processed products like juices, mineral water, pickles and honey will also be exported. Promoted as "natural products, grown under pristine and clean environment", the first supply of about 600 kilogrammes was displayed at the AGORA, the largest supermarket in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 8. The chief marketing officer of the Agricultural Marketing Services, Sangay Tsiwang, said that the launch was mainly to develop and promote markets for Bhutanese vegetables and processed products. "Only a small quantity was taken to display the variety of the export produce and products during the launch," he said. Targetted at the higher income group, the vegetables will be exclusively exported in the summer months from July to October when Bhutan produces fresh vegetables while Bangladesh faces a shortage, said Sangay Tsiwang. The Agricultural Marketing Services hopes to institutionalise the supply chain connecting Bhutanese farmers with the national exporters, importers and the retailers.

Press Release
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Bhutanese Fresh Summer Vegetables, Stone Fruits and Agro Processed Products Launched in Bangladesh The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Royal Government of Bhutan launched fresh summer vegetables and stone fruits in Bangladesh. The launching of the produce along with agro processed products from the Bhutan Agro Industries Limited took place in “AGORA” supermarket on 8th July 2004 at 11 am with the cutting of the ribbon by H.E. Dasho Jigme Tshultim, the Ambassador of Bhutan to Bangladesh. All of Bhutan’s vegetables are grown using natural and not hybrid seed. Bhutan’s high altitude reduces the likelihood of damaging pest and diseases and a reliance on harmful chemicals. Bhutan’s vegetables are grown under natural rainfall environment or by water from streams and rivers fed from snow and ice of the high Himalayas. The Bhutanese Vegetables that will be available in Agora are beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, radish and famous Bhutanese Chili amongst others. Processed Products from the Bhutan Agro Industries Limited is available. Product of interest is the mountain spring water which is harvested at over 9000 feet in a pristine environment resulting in a clean and crystal clear product. Other products will be juices, jams and pickles which are known to the local market. For the information of those interested, the above produce and products will be available in AGORA supermarket on and after the 8th July 2004.

7 July 2004

Appendix #5
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Price survey, Dhaka, July 2004
Product AGORA Ko – Mart NANDAN Open Bazaar Banani Market

Supermarket Supermarket

Asparagus Beans – French runner Brinjal Broccoli Cabbage Carrot Cauliflower Cucumber Ginger Potato Tomato

--24 --33 270 -84 80

500 --450 35 -------

460 450 26 425 58 28 450 22 85 -58

--20 -20 40 -20 80 -50

--20 --20 -22 80 10 60

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