Lhakpa Quendren

Farmers in the southern dzongkhags could expect a better market for their agriculture produce after producers and buyers from Sarpang, and Dagana signed an agreement in Sarpang recently.

The potential suppliers from Chhukha, Haa, and Samtse will sign the agreement with the buyers today and tomorrow in Phuentsholing.

To improve market access for the project-prioritised crops, the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP) supported the formation of 225 producer groups. This has resulted in a 29 percent increase in production against the initial goal of 25 percent.

Jigme Wangchuk, a member of the producer group from Larjab gewog in Dagana, wants to supply 500kg of mangoes to Chhimi Dema in the upcoming season. Chhimi is an entrepreneur who operates a value-added product unit called ‘Crystal Moon Products’ in Gelephu.

roducers from Sarpang and Dagana attend buyers and sellers meeting in Sarpang

Jigme said that selling his farm produce would be easy. “Selling during the season is challenging because the market gets flooded with the same produce, and we don’t get the price we expect,” he said.

He has problems such as diseases, pests, and conflicts with wildlife, but his biggest concern is the lack of market for his produce. “I have more than 30 mango trees, and they produced over 1,000kg of fruit, but I couldn’t sell a single kilo because there were no buyers.”

Chhimi and her group have reached most domestic markets in the country, with a monthly production capacity of about 1,000 pickle bottles. While the demand is growing, she said, the supply of local produce has been declining due to competition from other processing units.

Chhimi left her civil service job in 2018 to become a full-time entrepreneur. Her all-women group specialises in producing pickles from locally sourced vegetables, fruits, and spices.

Like Jigme and Chhimi, other producer groups and buyers from Sarpang and Dagana came together at the recently concluded two-day buyers and sellers meeting (BSM) in Sarpang, where they formed connections based on shared interests.

More than 250 metric tonnes (MT) of fruits and vegetables from the two FSAPP dzongkhags were scheduled for trade between these buyers and sellers.

Chhimi met several potential suppliers during the two-day event, and she signed agreements with them. “I’m thrilled with these arrangements. I now have backup sources for the lean seasons.”

The meeting is to provide a platform where producers, buyers, aggregators, and relevant stakeholders can interact, exchange information, showcase their products and services, and form mutually beneficial agreements.

Deputy Chief Marketing Officer of the Regional Agriculture and Marketing Cooperative (RAMCO) in Gelephu, Dawa Dakpa, said that this approach was considered significantly more effective and professional. He said it enables a deeper understanding of the participants’ demand and supply potential, resulting in stronger connections between buyers and sellers.

“While previous BSM events had been conducted, this edition stood out for its heightened professionalism,” he said. “We wish to replicate this format of BSM for our upcoming events.”

The main participants for the producer groups will be selected through pre-consultation meetings. Sellers will be selected from the producer groups supported by FSAPP following the producer groups’ consultation meetings.

The project will support new seed varieties, greenhouses, mulching plastics, capacity-building, pricing strategies, and market information for the producers.

In addition, the project will support buyers in creating transportation solutions for commodities, acquiring weighing balances, sourcing packaging materials, setting up pre-cooling facilities, and improving branding and packaging efforts.

The project, in collaboration with the dzongkhags and the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), will support addressing critical issues and improving the quality of production capacity. It will also focus on strengthening the marketing value chain.

DAMC, in partnership with the dzongkhag agriculture offices, will monitor, evaluate, and provide essential technical assistance to the business associations. This will be done through annual monitoring of business transactions, organising annual meetings, and conducting periodic impact studies.