The announcement, of the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) as the wholesale agent for all the vegetable vendors was a cause for concern among the vendors who are already worried over the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA)’s decision to stop issuing Indian Rupee from June first week.
Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley, who spoke to 92 vegetable vendors from 20 dzongkhags last Friday assured the vendors that the minor change in the mode of operation of vegetable import is but in favor of the vendors themselves.
“FCB will only import those not available from within our own country and distribute to you all,” said the Prime Minister.
He said FCB will neither compete nor try to hinder the business of the vegetable vendors. The government has directed FCB not to think of making profits but ensure that there is no vegetable crunch in the country at such juncture.
“This is more of a social service by FCB to the vendors in particular and Bhutanese people in general,” the Lyonchen said. The FCB will try to just break even by only recovering those expenditures incurred in the import plus the transportation cost. When the vendors make huge profits, foreign imports stifle national vegetable production.
Lyonchen also shared that a few vendors might face small problems when getting vegetables distributed to them by FCB. He advised that such small problems should be converted into opportunities by producing our own home grown vegetables.
“It is also important that farmers form into groups and cooperatives which would help a great deal in terms of quality, grading and sorting,“ said the Agriculture Minister, Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho who supplemented the PM.
The Finance Secretary Lam Dorji said that FCB would not be given Indian Rupee (INR) to buy vegetables like in the past but would have to go through proper banking channels for the purpose of Rupee management.
Most of the vendors present at the meeting accepted that the import of vegetables from other countries has so far discouraged farmers in Bhutan to grow vegetables on a commercial scale. “We buy and consume everything we import from other countries,” a vendor from Tangmachu in Lhuentse, Wangchuk said.