Phub Dem | Paro

The National Vegetable Management Taskforce (NVMT) established five fair price vegetable counters in Paro to make vegetables affordable on Saturday.

The aim of the task force is to link affordable vegetable vendors with the customers and to connect the vendors around the country.

The link, according to NVMT retail management’s leader, Sonam Dorji N, is essential for constant supply of vegetables, especially during the Covid-19 situation.

There are three teams in the NVMT—sourcing, collection and transportation, and retail.

The sourcing teams will explore the possibilities to outsource the vegetables; others will help in distribution.

For instance, if there is shortage of chillies in Paro but there is plenty in Tsirang, the commercial aggregators (CA) of Paro will procure and distribute it to the fair price vendors and other retailers in the dzongkhag.

“We want to create a market ecosystem,” Sonam Dorji N said.

Although the task force was formed as part of the Covid-19 response, Sonam Dorji N said that the initiative would enhance market after the pandemic is over.

Twenty CAs have been identified in each dzongkhag to minimise government interloping.

CAs have a crucial responsibility in ensuring the availability of vegetables in the dzongkhag and to distribute surplus vegetables to other dzongkhags.

“Even if farmers bring one bunch of spinach, the CA has to buy it, and they should have a storage facility as well,” Sonam Dorji N said.

He said that CA should seek help from dzongkhag and CSI bank to develop the required infrastructure.

Paro Dzongdag Tenzin Thinley said that the platform would help farmers in accessing the nearby market quickly and consumers at an affordable price.

Dhan Bahadhur Nirola, who has been selling vegetables in Paro for more than 20 years, has been identified as the CA of Paro. He has been exporting surplus vegetables from Paro to India before.

He said that with support from the government, he was planning to set up cold storage to store vegetables for offseason.

The price of vegetables at the fair price market should be either equal to or lower than the price in the centenary farmers’ market.

Sonam Tshering, a customer, said that besides making the commodities affordable, the availability of continuous supply of vegetables would be of great help.

The task force is currently documenting the terms of reference (TOR) for the CAs and vendors.