The initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests to enhance local agricultural production to meet domestic demand seems to have paid off as farmers around the country have taken to growing vegetables on a large scale. There are more home grown vegetables on sale at the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) in Thimphu this year.
According to the CFM officials, unlike in the past, this year CMF received large quantities of local vegetables of different varieties harvested in various parts of the country for sale.
CFM brings vendors and farmers together for business, and in that way, vegetables vendors find an easy access to farmers who grow many varieties of vegetables on a large scale.
Further, the officials say that farm produce such as onion and tomatoes, earlier in short supply are now available as more farmers are growing such varieties to meet the target of food self-sufficiency.
The vegetable vendors in Thimphu imported 208.318 tons of vegetables for sale weekly last year while 112.615 tons of local produce were available for sale in the same period. However, this year the local produce have scaled up to 198.855 tons of vegetables available for sale every week.
Due to the heavy import of vegetables, the agriculture ministry worked on a long term solution to increasing agricultural productivity and the marketing system in the capital, the largest urban dwelling in the country.
The vegetables vendors and farmers were encouraged to buy and sell local produce from within the country in order to make a difference to the farmers, vendors and the consumers and reduce the dependence on imports and work towards self- sufficiency.
According to a farmer from Trongsa, Tandin Lham, 44, earlier she used to grow vegetables for just her family, but since last year, she has started farming more vegetables to sell.
She said takes her farm produce to sell in CFM and is happy that the local vegetables are in demand.
She added that the ministry’s policy of enhancing local agriculture production through the gewog extension agent encouraged her to work hard and produce in excess. Tandin said she cultivated a few varieties of vegetables last year. “This year, I have planted the popular vegetables that consumers like.”
Tandin also shared that increasing number of Bhutanese farmers are thinking beyond subsistence farming. “Agriculture commercialization will have a direct bearing on poverty reduction,” she said.
Peldron Lhamo, 45, a farmer from Trashiyangtse believes that there is nothing which cannot be grown in the country and Bhutan can produce enough food for the Bhutanese population.
Peldron added that it is encouraging for farmers to see the rise in demand for local produce. She said buying local food will eventually help Bhutanese farmers to earn more income and to better their lives.
“Most of the farmers are now engaged in serious vegetable cultivation and they are planting more each year,” she said. Peldron said that the local vegetables are selling well as of now.