Vegetable marketing in the east

As part of the vegetable production and marketing plan to gear towards self-sufficiency, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperation (DAMC) has been facilitating farmers with major buyers and other linkage.

The Vegetable Value Chain Program in the east (VVCP-E) initially started as an off-season vegetable program (OVP) in July 2011 under market access and growth intensification project (MAGIP), an international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded project implemented by Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) in the six eastern dzongkhags of Lhuentse, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Trashigang, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar.

More than 104 farmers’ groups have signed a pre-contract with the local vegetables suppliers.

As of July 2013 under the school linking programme, about 49 farmers’ groups have been linked with 22 schools, 2 institutes and one Shedra for the supply of vegetables. The farmers’ groups have supplied 163 metric tons (MT) of vegetables amounting to Nu 2.49mn.

The recent report on the study conducted by the Regional Agricultural Marketing and Cooperative Office (RAMCO) on the vegetable value chain, which kicks started in 2011 in six eastern dzongkhags, saw major increase in income earned by the farmers through the sale of vegetables in schools.

The main objectives of the VVCP-E are to assist production of larger volumes of summer vegetables, to explore both internal and external market opportunities, to identify and facilitate both local and Indian traders for vegetable marketing, and to establish proper marketing channel for vegetable marketing, states the report.

The major vegetables identified as potential for production on commercial scale and marketing are cabbage, cauliflower, radish, carrot, beans and peas.

Following the year in 2012, about 69 farmers’ groups were involved in VVCP-E and sold 352.9 MT valuing to Nu 5.07mn. As of July 2013, 104 farmers’ groups have sold 234.9 MT amounting to Nu 3.34mn.

However, the officials involved in study deem that in Bhutan, the vegetable business is not lucrative owing to scattered and low population, and also the private sector involvement in vegetable business is very negligible.

The farmers’ groups supplying to schools and institutions also assures that the schools and instructions get fresh and nutritional vegetables.

There are 99 schools in the east which provides meals to the students. The total requirement of vegetables is 1467 MT per year, amounting to Nu 23.02mn. The farmers’ groups need to be strengthened to meet the required quantity of vegetables of schools (import substitution).

This programme is also in line with Vegetable Production and Marketing Plan (VPMP) of MoAF. In order to achieve self- sufficiency in vegetables by 2014, the farmers’ groups were formed to produce and market vegetables.

The programme is led by the Regional Agricultural Marketing and Cooperative Office (RAMCO) and the dzongkhag agricultural sectors of six eastern dzongkhags with technical assistance from the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) Bhutan and Horticulture Research and Development Project (HRDP) Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Renewable Natural Resources -Research Development Centre (RNR-RDC), Wengkhar.

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