Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) has identified five places in the country to establish advanced cold storage facilities to retain home grown vegetables, especially potatoes, to make it available for the Bhutanese consumers, and also to help reduce vegetable import.
The estimate and plans for setting up the cold storage technology is complete and such cold storage facilities would be soon established in Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Nganglam under Pemagatshel and Gyelposhing under Mongar.
With such facilities in place, the MoAF Minister Yeshey Dorji said that the home grown vegetables can be stored properly and later it can be sold during the lean vegetable season.
He added that the works would begin soon, and once operational, such facilities would cater to the needs of storing vegetables from all major vegetable growing areas. For instance, those at Samtse will serve to the need of cold storage facility for farmers producing varieties of vegetables in few southern dzongkhags while another one at Gyelposhing would store the produce from few eastern dzongkhags.
As of now, major home grown vegetables, especially potatoes that Bhutanese farmer produce every season are exported to the neighbouring states in India. Not many farmers choose to retain and store their produce for the lean season as they all rush to the nearest Food Corporation of Bhutan’s auction yard. The farmers only store a few kilograms of potatoes and non perishable vegetables for their consumption and few more as a seeds for the following season.
This practice was mainly due to the lack of advanced cold storage facilities, and even if there are, it is not readily accessible for the farmers. Hence, he said that farmers rush sell the produce in the auction yard, with fear of their potatoes getting spoilt and incurring loss as such produce would fetch them lower prices.
However, with the cold storage facilities such problem would be solved as more farmers would come forward to use the facility. Moreover, potatoes and other vegetables if sold in lean would fetch better prices and farmers would stand to gain more.
According to the Agriculture Minister such innovative venture was an initiative of the government towards the goal of self-sufficiency in the domestic vegetable production. He said that it would help people to consume what they produce and cut down on the import.
The MoAF will provide cold storage facilities in the designated areas to boost home grown vegetables, a high priority of the present government.