Rice: Tsagay, 49, smiles at the lady behind the cash counter at the FCB outlet in Changzamtog.

“Can I have 150 kilograms (kgs) of Khamti,” he asks the lady. But the rice is out of stock. So Tsagay goes for 50 kg of Ranjit rice, 50 kg of Champa and Bunap Maap rice.

Tsagay is preparidng for a rimdo at his home in Chapcha next week.

Of about 30 varieties of local rice, Khamti rice from Bangtar in Samdrupjongkhar is the most sought after rice after Tan Tshere, Champa and Kalo Bhog (Jeera).

Sales assistant at FCB, Tshering Gem, said that white rice varieties sale more. When Khamti rice is in stock, the corporation’s daily sale is more than Nu 40,000.

Seven months since FCB undertook the procurement, processing and marketing of locally produced rice varieties, the corporation purchased about 385 metric tonnes of paddy from farmers of Wangdue, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Sarpang, and Gelephu at Nu 10.82 million.

The corporation had milled about 234 metric tonnes of head rice from its rice mill in Chuzaygang, Bajo in Wangdue, and Tsirang.

A total of Nu 5.75 million was earned from sale of 102 metric tonnes of head rice. The corporation has 132 metric tonnes of rice in stock.

Regional manager with FCB in Thimphu, Pelden Tashi, said that people were not aware that there are varieties of Bhutanese rice. The sale of local rice is gradually picking up.

He added that local rice is healthy compared to imported rice because it is milled from fresh paddy while imported rice is polished several times to make it look shiny which is not healthy.

“People think that shiny rice is of superior quality which actually is not,” said Pelden Tashi.  Some farmers prefer to sell their produce in vegetable market in the capital than to FCB.

Pelden Tashi said that farmers sell Tan Tsheri rice at Nu 100 per kg. They don’t calculate overhead cost of bringing their produce to the market.

There have been cases when farmers mixed imported rice with local rice and sell saying its Tan Tsheri. This spoils the market for rice, said Pelden Tashi.“It is convenient and saves money if farmers sell their paddy to FCB. If people want to taste the genuine Tan Tsheri, they should come and buy from FCB.”

FCB has quality specialist who examine rice quality and differentiate varieties of paddy grains.

Moisture content in paddy is one of the important qualities the FCB consider when purchasing paddy from farmers. The fresh harvested paddy will contain high moisture. The paddy weighs more when the moisture content is high.

Rice with moisture content of 14 is good quality rice. If the moisture content is higher than 14 when milled, rice grain will break.

In order to enhance the marketing of local rice, the corporation started credit facility in ministries and corporations a few months ago. The corporation delivers the order and at the end of the month, payment after deducting from the employee’s salary.

The corporation supplies rice to the farm shops in some of the gewogs and is planning farm shops in all the gewogs so that local rice is available across the country.

Sale of local rice in farm shops in Chumay in Bumthang is also doing well. However, sale of red rice is poor in dzongkhags where they harvest their own variety like in Paro and Punakha. To boost the sale, the corporation is promoting white rice in such areas.

The price of rice ranges from Nu 37 to Nu 74 per kg. The most expensive local variety is – Bondrey – costs Nu 74 per kg.

Dechen Tshomo