Picture Courtesy: Langa Tenzin

Local vegetables fill the supply gap in lockdown despite no imports

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the government has fixed the price of vegetables by working out the cost of production on each item and added 20 percent profit margin at least to save the farmers from going into total loss in the current situation. 

“We may not be able to pay the price the farmer are expecting but for the government we are trying to prevent farmers going into loss. The preference is with the farmers and producers, wherever they can fetch a better price they can sell it and if not the government will buy it. The farmers can always approach the local government and the agriculture extension officers  in the respective dzongkhags,  be it for vegetables or dairy products. They will collect it from them and distribute it to different places,” the Agriculture Minister said.

Lyonpo asked all the rural farmers and commercial farmers to use local government mechanisms to contact their Dzongkhag Agriculture and Livestock Sectors for all their farm produces to be facilitated for marketing by the Ministry during the COVID-19 and lockdown period.

Lyonpo said that the distribution of vegetables and livestock are being carried out in 20 dzongkhags.

“Each dzongkhags has an agriculture sector and even the gewogs has agriculture extension officers and they always report on what produces are coming and what is needed in the particular places. They collect the produces from the farmers and distribute accordingly,” Lyonpo said, adding that the government has been focusing in Thromdes since the complaints of vegetables not being enough are mainly in big Thromdes like Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu.

Lyonpo added that there is no import due to the nationwide lockdown but since most of the dzongkhags are producing vegetables it has eased the situation.

 “Vegetable for Thimphu are coming from Paro, Punakha and Wangdue while Phuentsholing  gets  it from Chukha and Paro. Dagana and Tsirang are supplying to Wangdue and in eastern dzongkhags they do not have much problem since they have sufficient vegetables,” Lyonpo added.

Meanwhile, Paro Dzongda Tenzin Thinley said that people are allowed to pluck their vegetables from their field but they should maintain social distancing. The gewog will collect the produce from them and distribute it to the different places.

“Since it is lockdown people are not allowed to move but they are allowed to move in their field and pluck their vegetables and inform the gewogs. The gewog will collect their produces and supply different places. We are collecting and supplying it to Damchu and Thimphu at the moment,” he said.

He said, “We have shops identified that are responsible to sell the essential commodities and they have their own villagers who supplies vegetable and we get it from them. In rural centers it is much easier because there is no crowd.”

The Dzongda added that the agriculture sector in the dzongkhags are working hard to collect and supply vegetables to different places where it is needed.

“Our dzongkhag have given private vehicles to the gewogs to collect vegetables and then they bring to the dzongkhag and send it to FCBL and Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu. We are arranging and supplying vegetables as much as we can,” he added.

Agriculture Officer Dorji Gyeltshen in Tsirang dzongkhag said that the dzongkhag has three vehicles each for twelve gewogs in the dzongkhags to collect vegetables from the farmers and to deliver essential goods to the villagers at the moment.

“Farmers don’t have to worry about not being able to sell their produce since they are not allowed to move. The gewogs will collect their vegetables and dairy products and supply it to where it is needed,’ he said.

He added that the dzongkhags have appointed three aggregators who will look into the essentials and vegetables products which has to be distributed and collected.

“Whatever the farmers have produced in the gewogs they report to these three aggregator and they bring to the dzongkhag and then it is supplied to Gelephu, Wangdue and Paro,” he added.

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