Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjore said that the government plans on exporting the excess vegetables that cannot be sold in the country. The Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCBL) has been notified to buyback the vegetables from the farmers.
“We have 24 items of vegetables which are produced in bigger quantity. And the excess vegetables will be exported to the other countries,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo said that the government has requested the vegetable vendors and BAFRA to manage the import in accordance to the level of local production. FCBL will collect any bulk production from respective sites and export through e-Auction.
“Through electronic visioning, FCBL will see the products electronically and then quote price for it and then decided to buy. The FCBL will export it to the other countries. And for the vegetables that we can consume within the country, we have a Vegetable Management Team who is networking with all these things,” Lyonpo said, adding that networking is the important key that will help in the collection of vegetables from different places and take it to where it is needed.
Lyonpo added that the government has already supported FCBL with financial resources to go to respective places and buyback from the farmers and export the vegetables through diplomatic channels.
Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that the government has already encouraged the people to come into farming. The ministry has to be prepared for management of the harvest as well as the cultivation has started around the country.
“As much as we can, we are supporting the progress in farming. We have Post Harvest Management Center, Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives, Farm Mechanization Corporation Limited, Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation, and through dzongkhags and regional agriculture marketing centers, we are all working on how to address the marketing issues, and at the central government level the executive orders have been issued that all government feeding program institution must prioritize to procure local produces,” Lyonpo said. He assured that there is no vegetable selling crisis.
To contain the spread of COVID-19, the government has already stopped the import of fruits and vegetables on 24 March. To facilitate consumption of locally produced fruits and vegetables within the country, the government imposed restriction on the import of commonly grown fruits and vegetables as well. It is also to ensure that local produces do not go to waste. However, vegetables and fruits, like the onion, tomato, bitter gourd, okra, apple, banana, pineapple, mango, orange and pomegranate, are allowed to be imported.
Lyonpo added that the vegetable vendors have agreed to not hike the price of the fruits and vegetables placed under import restriction.
“The vendors will sell their produces at same price like before. BAFRA will monitor the price, and most probably, it will be looked after by OCP. Wholesale importers have agreed that they will not increase the price. If they do not sell to the retailers at high price, there is no reason that retailers should hike the price,” Lyonpo added.