Business: Farm shop (Sanam Tshongkhag) in Rangjung, Trashigang has stopped selling food and essential items due to strong opposition from the business community of Rangjung.

The farm shop was inaugurated on July 15 last year to cater to the farmers of eight gewogs in Trashigang.

The 33 shopkeepers of Rangjung had appealed to the dzongkhag administration objecting to the sale of basic food essential items which the economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk, approved.

Tashi Dorji, a shopkeeper, said the close proximity of the shop to the town was affecting their business. Consumers were opting for goods from the farm shop.

“Our understanding was that the farm shop was set up to facilitate better market access to the farmers. But, it dealt with almost every essential item being sold in our shops,” he said.

Even when the prices offered at the farm shop was at par with the ones in the wholesale shops, people preferred buying from the former because it was government owned, added Tashi.

“Retail shopkeepers like me would have suffered the most. It was already becoming difficult for us,” he said.

Tshogpa of Rangjung town, Jambay, said the farm shop was purchasing essential items from the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) just like the shopkeepers did.

“But the farm shop sold at a lower rate than ours. Other shopkeepers were running on loss. We simply couldn’t compete,” said Jambay.

During the recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT), Shongphu gup Kinzang Wangdi suggested taking the farm shop to the gewog centre where farmers would be directly benefit.

“If it is a problem at Rangjung, the farm shop would serve a vital purpose to the farmers in the gewog,” he said.

Not all townspeople are happy with the decision. Tashi Samdrup has been buying food and other items from the farm shop because of the price difference.

“The price of commodities was comparatively lower at the farm shop,” a resident Tashi said. “For instance, a kilogramme of sugar costs about Nu 38 when it is sold at around Nu 50 in the market.”

Tshering Wangdi  Trashigang