The advice so far has been to not hoard but that changed during the monthly meet-the-press when Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said said if every person keeps around five to six months of food stock at home then there should not be a problem even if there is a lockdown in the future.
The PM went on to say that hoarding is considered as a negative term but according to him it is okay to professionalize it so that when there is a lockdown people don’t have to come out.
Lyonchhen made the comments after the Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor listed out the food items stored by FCBL and others to make the point that there are more than enough food stocks.
Following this, Lyonchhen said that while question should not be if we have enough food stocks for five or six months but he said from here on it is important to change food habits.
Lyonchhen said that the six-month rice stocks are if everyone eats rice three times a day but if one eats rice once a day and something else at other times then there would be lesser economic impact on the nation and people would be healthier and live longer.
Lyonchhen said, “At any given point and time we need 6 months of essential commodities and the wholesalers should give it to retailers and retailers should give it to the people who can store it in their houses.”
He then said it is okay for people to keep five to six months’ stocks of food.
The Bhutanese followed up with the PM so that he could better elaborate on this new advice.
Lyonchhen said when the stocking started off, Bhutan had only two to three weeks of rice stocks in FCB not including grocery shops and homes.
He said while some places like Lunana have stocks for 2 to 3 years and not just six months including places in Samtse and Paro that grow rice. He said while doing stock taking, this information is needed.
“It is simple, I was telling Lyonpo Yeshey that if we need 100 MT of rice for 6 months we know how much we have now and if our everyday consumption is 10 MT then we should import 10 MT everyday so that the stock stays the same,” said the PM
“For example, if we require 20 MT Amul Cheese for the country’s consumption the 16 wholesale dealers should have 20 MT in stock and if daily usage is 2 MT then they should import 2 MT everyday. So there should be a real time App and I was telling Lyonpo Yeshey and Lyonpo Loknath to please identify 20 to 30 commodities and at any given point time it should be enough for six months,” said the PM.
He said that about two weeks back he heard FCBL was stocking to have enough stock for six months and then waiting for the lockdown to happen.
“I said no Lyonpo Yeshey, whatever they have to please give it to the retailers and retailers will give it to the consumers. You and I will have it in our homes,” said Lyonchhen.
He said FCB should do keep a stock of how much has gone to retailers and at same time how much is being consumed on a daily basis. He said if import is done taking these figures into account then hoarding is not negative.
“Say you want to hoard rice but how much can your hoard. You cannot keep 20 MT of rice in your house as you will have a calculation of how much you need -like 3 sacks of rice and so that should not be a problem. It is said that people are taking unlimited amount of rice but that is not a problem as they all will have a calculation. No family will stock up 1 MT of rice anyway and so let this hoarding happen as the term hoarding itself needs to be re-defined,” said Lyonchhen.