The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an unprecedented number of people to take up farming, on commercial to small kitchen garden scales, to grow food.
Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the government has controlled the import of vegetables at the moment because of the situation, and it has created a forced scarcity, so the immediate action is to enhance food production in the country.
“The government is trying to put a very good package that is the buyback scheme. This is a good opportunity for people to work on food production,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo said that the buyback scheme is ready and the government is expecting and preparing for the extra flow of vegetables.
“We have team who is looking after the vegetable distribution. We are expecting extra flow in of vegetables and we are preparing. The budget for the buyback has been proposed and the approval has to come through the Parliament,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that buyback scheme would be applied to every individual, not just farmer but those who produce more than what they can consume and want to sell it.
“We will give the first preference to the producers to sell their produce because in the buyback scheme the price will be fixed by the government which is calculated on cost of production plus 50 percent profit margin, and if they can sell their produce by themselves, they will be getting 100 percent profit. However, if they fail to sell their produce in the market, the government will buy their produce,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that there has to be a minimum quantity of vegetables to carry out the buyback scheme.
“For different items and different location, the price will differ. So the cost of production will also differ, and on top 50 percent profit margin will be added. We will fix the price and then carry out the buyback scheme. We cannot buy a kilo of vegetable so there has to be a minimum quantity,” said Lyonpo.
Lyonpo added, “At the moment, we are trying to accommodate as much as possible to collect the small quantity that they have. The price will differ as the transportation cost will be added on cost of production, and the 50 percent profit margin. And the quality of the product has to be looked up too.”
Lyonpo also added that the estimated budget to carry out the scheme for different vegetables is to be released by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
“The buyback scheme will be carried out based on the season of the produce. For instance, the potatoes will hit the market soon, so for the potatoes buyback, we will make an estimate budget, and we will request MoF to release that amount and so too for the other vegetables,” Lyonpo added.