According to the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor, the ministry is hopeful that the current price of vegetables may come down once the winter vegetables hit the market.
He said that it is the ministry’s responsibility to make sure there is enough vegetable stock in the market sourced from local production and imported vegetables.
“As local production increases, we will reduce the import and vice versa. We are very hopeful that by beginning of January, local supplies will be there in the market. Tomato is already coming and also other vegetables in Tsirang and Dagana are also ripening,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo said that much work needs to be done to carry out the winter vegetable project, which is a first ever initiative by the government.
“We need land development, input like seeds, irrigation, and in winter, we need water, green houses. The investment is huge, so the preparation task was quiet challenging, that’s why it is getting delayed, but it’s all progressing very well,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that if the high price paid by the consumers go to the farmers instead of the vendors then it would be better, as the farmers will get encouraged to produce more. As the farm production increase, there will be more quantity in the market, and that would obviously bring down the vegetable price.
“However, what is happening currently is that the farmers are not getting the prices that the consumers are paying, so a small section of vendors are benefitted. We requested the vendors to not hike the prices and they agreed when we requested, but once we leave they ignore and do hike the prices,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo added that the consumers should also work on their local farm produce if they have the land for gardening, and if the vendors hike the prices they should bargain the price and if the vendors are not agreeing then they should report to the authority.
“It is the responsibility of the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) for monitoring the prices, but we must realize that, at this juncture, OCP with limited man power are carrying out many responsibilities, like they have to monitor the shops after 9 pm, and they are overloaded with works. So the ministry requested the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) and Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) to support OCP and monitor the price,” Lyonpo added.
Lyonpo also added it is not the ministry’s mandate to control vegetable price.
“But definitely, as a government agency, indirectly it is our responsibilty, so that’s why we are helping OCP in controlling the price. And when it comes to manpower, BAFRA, DAMC and OCP have hardly around 200 people in the country, and to control the market of 700,000 people, it is impossible. If consumers keep on paying the prices fixed by the vendors then the vendors will keep on hiking the prices so the consumers should also help us by informing the respective authorities” the Agriculture Minister said.
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