For small farmers, making a little income out of what they grow is difficult.
Coming out on the roadsides to sell their produce is not easy, because they cannot just be sitting there with their stuff from the gardens is not so pretty. They can’t even build a temporary shelter.
But for farmers like 53-year-old Pem Zam of Khasakha, selling fruits and vegetables by the roadsides in the only source of income. Many of them depend on such small businesses to educate their children.
When they are told not to do what pretty much the only thing they can, what options are we giving them? And what right have we to stop them from making a little income that will see them through the year?
The few roadside stalls that we have are occupied permanently by a few. It is not fair that others who are so lucky cannot make money. Suggestions have been put up by the farmers that a group be formed so that they are able to do business on alternative days. Even this is not sensible. But for the farmer, who have pretty much no option, this is the best.
If the dzongkhag administration can stop farmers from selling their produce by the roadside, it must come up with alternatives. We are talking about livelihood of those who depend on agriculture. There is a confusion that needs to be cleared.
The dzongkhag administration had issued an order stating that it’s not allowed to make a hut using tarpaulin along the highway because it doesn’t look good for VVIPs and other important guests visiting the country. But the dzongdag also said that the farmers doing business this way pose no traffic problems and the surroundings kept clean, the administration would support farmers to sell their agricultural products. This is the message that needs to be understood in the right context.
This means the dzongkhag administration will find ways to allow farmers to sell their produce. There is even a plan to help build sheds along the highway so that farmers have proper stall to sell produce from their gardens.
Such initiatives will encourage our farmers to work hard. Whatever it is with VVIP visits, there is today a need to create markets where our farmers can get a fair deal.