Local Vegetable Production tips its scales

Ever since the inception of plans to accelerate vegetable production and marketing by the agriculture ministry, the progress has been good, said officials of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperatives (DAMC) and the Horticulture Division.

Proof of statement is the domestic production of 30,595 MT against the requirement of 54,445 MT.

The DAMC has constantly monitored the productions since April.

The production of local vegetable has increased by 93 Metric Tonnes (MT) as of July 15 against the increase of six MT in April this year for the Centenary Farmers Market (CFM), while the trend in import and local production has been encouraging.

It is during the winter season that dependence on the imported vegetables stands at 70% to 80%, said the National Vegetable Program Coordinator under the Horticulture Division of the Department of Agriculture, Namgay Thinley. Annually 10,000 MT of vegetables including potatoes are being imported.

As per the recent weekly report quantity of local produces increased by 4 MT against the decrease for imported produces by 13 MT.  The quantity of local vegetables has increased to 93MT from 89MT from the earlier week while the imported quantity has decreased to 47MT from 60MT.

Out of 47MT of the imported vegetables 18.9 MT were procured by vendors from Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) in Phuentsholing, while the remaining were procured from other sources.  The imported commodities for the week were Ridge gourd, Wax gourd, pointed gourd, Snake gourd, Onion, Chili, Tomato, Lady Finger, Potato and bitter gourd.

The price comparison for local and imported vegetables at CFM show that the price of local vegetables stand higher than imported ones as usual, except for Tomato for which the prices have been cheaper for the week.

The Price Range of commodities at CFM during various market days (Thursday to Sunday) was highest on Thursdays and lowest on Sundays.

To monitor the Price Situation in the Dzongkhags DAMC has directed dzongkhags to send price information for main vegetable commodities on a weekly basis by Monday submission to the Ministry.

The Director of DAMC, Dorji Dhradhul, said price control is one of the biggest challenges. “The sustainable solution in the long run is through increasing the supply. Once it is done, the prices will automatically come down,” he said.

One of the measures which was implemented is the ‘price-tag system’ in the CFM. As reflected earlier in stories run by The Bhutanese, measures to create a minimum price subsidy was considered but has not come through, owing to experiences from other countries.

The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) has agreed to provide consultancy assistance from Market Access and Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP) to assess production-costs of major vegetables on request of the Regional Agriculture Marketing and Cooperative Office (RAMCO) in Mongar.

RAMCO had reported 67.85MT of vegetables sold by Off-season Vegetable Producers (OVP) in the east during the week with earnings of Nu 1.53mn. The vegetables traded were cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, beans, peas and radish.

The vegetables of Mongar cluster (Themnangbi, Takchu and Wengkhar) were sold in Bumthang markets. The quantity sold was 4078 kg. The wholesale dealer of the Cluster also has reported demand from the Royal Body Guards (RBG), Tashichhodzong Dratshang and Pangrizampa Dratshang, and Thimphu for supply of potato, cabbage and beans.

A deadline of 25 July has been set for Dzongkhag Agriculture Officers around the country to submit the targeted areas.

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