Thirteen schools—ten from Chukha, two from Samtse and one from Thimphu signed an agreement to buy produce from 10 farmers’ groups (FGs) and a cooperative last month.

Apart from two schools in Samtse, the 11 schools will implement the contract from next month. Dorkha Central School and Tendruk Central School in Samtse will receive the farm produce starting February next year.

The 10 FGs and a cooperative comprise of more than 220 member farmers.

The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) have linked 48 schools with 98 farmers’ groups in six eastern dzongkhags since 2012.

DAMC’s officiating chief for marketing development division, Mekh Bdr Chhetri, said that the linking programme between FGs and schools or institutions began in 2012 in eastern Bhutan.

Today, Trashigang has 12 schools linked with 33 FGs; Mongar’s nine schools with 19 FGs; Pemagatshel’s eight schools with 12 FGs; Lhuntse’s seven schools with 12 FGs; Trashiyangtse’s six schools with 15 FGs and six schools from Samdrupjongkhar linked with eight FGs.

Kamji Central School’s principal Pema Rinchen said that until today the school brought vegetables through quotations, which were probably imported.

He said that if the FGs could supply the products as per requirement, the contract would be extended. “We are expecting vegetables such as cabbage, potato, radish, local beans, and pumpkins. We will also have dairy and poultry products from them.”

The school has over 800 students of which about 640 are in boarding.

DAMC supports and guides the producers technically and in terms of input supply.

Mekh Bdr Chhetri said that the deal would benefit schools with wide varieties, and fresh renewable natural resources produces.

“On the other hand, producers have assured markets for their products for a minimum 10 months a year at a predetermined price,” he said. “In case the groups find difficulty in arranging the products, concerned dzongkhag and DAMC will facilitate produce from possible sources.”

There are 415 registered farmers groups and 64 cooperatives under DAMC today.

Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP) provided financial assistance for the programme. 

Phurpa Lhamo