Nima | Gelephu

In an attempt to prevent damage to food stock, Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) is going to move them to dzongkhags in the cooler regions.

The corporation has stored a large number of food items in the multipurpose halls of schools in the southern dzongkhags.

For instance, FCBL would store essential items that would last only three months in Sarpang and move most of the items to Bumthang and Trongsa where the weather is favourable to store for a longer period.

FCBL chief executive officer, Naiten Wangchuk said this in response to concerns from the LG officials during a meeting in Sarpang on June 25.

Local government officials said the plan to stock essential commodities to last for seven months in the southern dzongkhags like Sarpang could be unsafe with rising heat and onset of monsoon.

Gelephu gup, Ugyen Wangchuk said essential items like rice could be stored only for a few months in the region.

“Too much of heat and humidity leads to contamination of essential items within a few months.  Mice and birds could contaminate the food items too. This poses an even bigger threat to the health of people than the coronavirus,” he said.

He added that the country was burdened with debt and struggled with a bad economic situation even before the ongoing pandemic.

“The plan to stock essential goods for seven months was not necessary. This might lead to a huge loss if the stocks are not properly monitored,” said Ugyen Wangchuck.

He said certain measures of selling old stocks and storing the new stocks for the later days must be stocked to avoid unnecessary loss.

Naiten Wangchuk said that measures were in place to avoid contamination.

“We are using sprays. But, we can’t assure the contamination doesn’t happen,” he said. “The storage places must be kept dry and cold, which is difficult.”

He said that installing humidifiers would be expensive at this time.

FCBL has not received any reports of contamination and damage.

Today, there are over 619 MT of rice, 100MT of oil, and 20MT of pulses stocked in Gelephu, which would be supplied to the dzongkhag as a preparation for the worst-case scenario.

The local government official said the stores and halls used to store essential commodities lacked proper facilities that would prevent contamination of the commodities and also from birds and rats.

“There were incidences where birds and rats feeding on the supplies stored in the halls. Most halls are open air,” said Ugyen Wangchuk.

Naiten Wangchuk said earlier FCB planned to stock up essential commodities that would last for three months.

“The lockdown was extended in India and the pandemic was getting worse. We started to stock essential items to last seven months then,” he said.

The schools are preparing to open gradually and FCB has requested schools and dzongkhags to ensure the stocks are properly monitored.