During the National Assembly (NA) Question Hour session on Tuesday, the Member of Parliament from Khar Yurung constituency asked the Agriculture and Forests Minister on the measures taken up by the government to improve the BuyBack policy for the benefit of the farmers.
The MP said, “The government has pledged to implement BuyBack policy, and therefore, buy surplus produce from our farmers at the higher rates than the market. However, the government has not been able to smoothly implement the BuyBack policy thus far. For instance, the Food Corporation of Bhutan buys vegetables at subsidized rates, which is not benefitting the farmers.”
Regarding this Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that BuyBack does not mean the ministry will buy and sell the local produce since that is not the mandate. He said that BuyBack policy is carried out when there is no market and no ways of export.
“The government has promised to BuyBack the surplus if farmers are not able to sell but it is the last measure that the government will use, when there is no market and there is no route to export,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Agriculture Minister said that to address the issue, the government has borne a loss of Nu 24 million (mn) while buying cabbages from the farmers.
“We had to go forward with the BuyBack policy during the lockdown of the nation. We had to buy the cabbages since there was no market and it was getting damaged and rotten. And to carry out the policy, we provided the Overdraft facilities to the FCBL through banks, and the interest were borne by the government,” Agriculture Minister said, adding that they could not export, however they didn’t let the cabbages rot rather donated to the monasteries, quarantine centers and to the frontline workers of COVID-19.
“We didn’t face any issue while exporting the produce, for instance while exporting potatoes, we gave the opportunity to the private exporters to export the potato beside FCBL. The private exporters paid extra amount while buying the potatoes from the farmers,” he added.
Agriculture Minister also added that FCBL carries out both the import and export of vegetables. The import of vegetables is to be kept at a minimum cost and so it can be sold to the consumers in Bhutan at a reasonable rate.
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