Chhimi Dema 

The Centenary Famers’ Market (CFM) in Thimphu was handed over from the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) to the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC) under the agriculture ministry on July 28.

The facility was under Thimphu Thromde after its establishment in 2007. It was managed by BAFRA from 2008 till the end of July this year.

What could now happen?

DAMC’s director Kinlay Tshering said that the facility was handedover to the department to segregate the marketing and the regulation aspects under two different agencies.

DAMC was established in 2009 to better equip and prepare the agriculture ministry to cater for the needs of the rapid transition of the agriculture sector from a primarily subsistence to a major market economy.

BAFRA, established in 2000, functions as the national authority to ensure quality and safety of food and feed.

Kinlay Tshering said that the department’s aim was to focus on local produce and make CFM a transit for marketing agriculture produce.

“It is not our intention to replace all the imported produce with local ones,” she said, adding that with new ideas DAMC will look at how it can promote local produce in such kind of market facility.

“What farm produce is in deficit will be imported, what we have in excess during on-season, we could export,” Kinlay Tshering said.

There would be challenges such as changing climate, labour shortage, lack of irrigation, and human-wildlife conflict if one is to replace all imports with local farm produce, she said.

Vendors in CFM sell agriculture, livestock, non-wood forestry products, cereals, ornamental plants, local seeds and seedlings, apart from packaged products and processed foods.

CFM could serve as a transit facility, she said, whereby local agricultural produce will be brought from the dzongkhags to be distributed to wholesalers or zone shops in the city and other neighbouring dzongkhags.

Kinlay Tshering said: “The RNR sector is the one and the only sector which contributes directly to the income and poverty reduction of the rural households.”