According to the Agriculture and Forests Minister, Yeshey Penjor, tons of cabbages are rotting in storage, as there is no export market for the vegetable due to the lockdown in potential markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the cabbage export is not happening, tons and tons of cabbages are rotting. The only option is asking the farmers to keep the cabbages in the field, but they also need money. On other hand, it is the season for farmers to again harvest the cabbage, and to use the field for other alternatives, so it has become important for the farmers to sell their cabbages, however, it has also become difficult for FCBL to export,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the government is planning to compost all the excess vegetables, and also turn it into a powder form and then sell it in the market.
“We have brought the dryer machine from Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL), so that at least we can keep the vegetables dry. We are looking for the private sector interested in producing compost. To that extent, we are trying to atleast make it compost and sell it as fertilizers, and other edible powders. We are working on all this alternate post harvest management,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo also said that the three dryer machines have been made by FMCL and Department of Marketing and Cooperatives is working on this.
“The immediate option is to dry and make powder, so we can employ some of the youth and let them buy and do post harvest management. Therefore, three dryers has been made and DMC is working on where to install this machine and who will operate. So we are planning to find some youth and train them and let them operate the business,” Lyonpo said.
The ministry aims to promote production and encourage the farmers by giving better price for the produce.
“Unfortunately with the current situation, we are not able to do it so. Now what ministry is trying to do is while we are not able to help the farmers to make a profit, we are trying that farmers do not to die down with 100 percent loss,” Lyonpo added.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, during the meeting of the Cabinet and Executive held in Thimphu on Thursday, said that the government has disbursed Nu 41 million to the southern parts of the country for the production of vegetables in the winter.
“We have an excess of vegetables at the moment, and in winter, it will be the opposite. And this pandemic will take time to go away, so we have disbursed the amount so that it will benefit during the winter,” the Prime Minister said.
PM said, “We are also worried about large scale export. We are planning to go for drying and powdering. We will collect all the vegetables that the farmers are bringing in, and we will dry in humidity microwaves and then make powder for soups, so we are coming up with different strategies.”
Lyonchhen said that there is an excess amount of vegetables in the country, as the consumers have also started kitchen gardening, and it has affected the sales.
“Small crisis are arising since people around the country have started kitchen gardening. However, we have disbursed Nu 200 million to the twenty dzongkhags so that they can work on agriculture development and for self sufficiency,” Lyonchhen said.