More than 200 trucks and pick up boleros loaded with potatoes are stuck at the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) in Phuentsholing waiting for their turn to unload the produce. The festive time has led buyers from across the border to skip the auction for some time now.

The situation has affected drivers and potato growers from across the country. They point out the risk of potatoes rotting and increasing cost of staying in Phuentsholing.

A truck driver from Bumthang, Penden Dorji had brought a truckload of the tuber on October 21 and was waiting at the auction yard yesterday.

“My truck is not even listed as of now,” he said, adding that there were 30 more trucks that were waiting to list their vehicles for unloading. “I think I will be stuck here for more than a week.”

Penden Dorji said that the longer the stay in Phuentsholing, the less his chance to profit. It is not fair to increase vehicle charges to farmers, the driver said, adding that farmers were also facing the same problems.

The list of vehicles according to a list at the auction yard gate yesterday showed there were 212 trucks and boleros. About 80 vehicles had unloaded.

It will be the 12th day for Daw Tashi, a potato farmer from Phobjikha. Although his produce was cleared on October 21, hotel expenses were increasing each day, he added.

“I will have to wait another three days to get the payment,” the farmer said.

Daw Tashi brought 240 packets of potatoes from Phobjikha and some rotted, he said. The potato packets are tightly closed and it rots in the heat, he added. “Even if I had brought a truckload, it is not as profitable as last year.”

Gyem Tshering, another potato grower from Bumthang, also waited for 10 days to auction his produce through the online system. “I am expecting the payment today,” he said, adding that it would be 12 days today.

FCBL complex manager Ugyen Penjor said that the situation was mainly due to farmers bringing their harvest late in the season expecting more returns. “Usually the crowd is like this in October and November,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing