With just a month or two left for the farmers in the east to harvest potatoes and transport the harvest to the auction yard in Samdrup Jongkhar, the MP of Drametsi Ngatshang, Ugyen Wangdi, expressed his concerns regarding the collusion between the ex-employee of Samdrup Jongkhar auction yard and few Indian counterparts during the auction season.
He shared that because of the collusion, interested Indian participants are always kept away from the auction process and as a result the prices are being undercut and this brings a considerable loss to the farmers. Hence, he requested the Ministry of Agriculture to put in plans and measures to curb the collusion so the auction prices are favourable to the farmers.
Following the concern raised by the Drametsi Ngatshang representative, the Agriculture and Forests Minister, Yeshey Dorji, said there have been no such official complaints filed by the farmers to any of the concerned organization and the matter has not reached to the ministry.
However, the Agriculture Minister said there are new plans that the ministry would begin this year in order to help farmers with direct marketing of their farm produce. He said the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) would be going to the production areas which are accessible by farm road in procuring the farm produce.
Further, Lyonpo said that FCB has already signed contracts with some of the farmers willing to sell vegetables through FCB and without having to go on their own to the auction yards to market their farm produce.
The Agriculture Minister said that farmers rush to sell their farm produce in the auction yards because they don’t have the cold storage facilities or it is not readily accessible to the farmers to store their harvest and when spoilt, the vegetables fetch lower prices and the farmers incur a huge loss.
Lyonpo said the advanced cold storage facilities to retain home grown vegetables, like potatoes have now been established. He said such facilities will help to reduce vegetable import during the lean vegetable season and also help the farmers to earn more. The potatoes and other vegetables when sold during the lean vegetable periods would fetch a better price and farmers would stand to gain more.
The cold storage technology facilities are to be established in Gelephug, Samdrup Jongkhar, Nganglam under Pemagatshel and Gyelposhing under Mongar, and the existing old storage in Phuntsholing would be renovated.
Such an innovative venture was initiated by the government towards the goal of self-sufficiency in the domestic vegetable production.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will soon provide cold storage facilities in the designated areas and help to boost home grown vegetables in the country.