Phub Dem | Paro

Most organic farmers in Paro, who are forced to sell their organic farm produce at the same price as local vegetables, will soon have a designated sales outlet.

The organic farmers did not even have a proper market to distinguish their produce, but the dzongkhag agriculture office is now in the process of establishing an organic sales outlet at the heart of Paro town. 

The two one-storey structures that previously housed ‘One Gewog One Product’  centre will be upgraded into the sales outlet soon. 

According to dzongkhag agriculture officer, Tandin, the Department of National Properties would dismantle the existing structures and build a two-storey building.

He said that the organic flagship programme would fund the establishment. “Construction will begin soon and the outlet will open next year.”

He said that the organic flagship programme plans to house an organic café, sales outlets and stores in the two-storey structure.  “The café will have ready-made organic cuisines such as Ema Datsi and Kimchi made using organic chilli, tomatoes and cheese.” 

The sales outlet will not operate like a vegetable market.

Tandin said that only processed and packaged organic products with proper branding would be displayed for sale at the outlet. “We will not bring in fresh vegetables at the outlet.”

He said the dzongkhag agriculture office already discussed with the municipality to keep separate space for fresh organic produces in the new upcoming market shed. 

He said that all these measures was to promote organic farming in the dzongkhag, adding that many farmers were coming forward to take up the venture. “The office is constantly in touch with the farmers. We brief them about the sales outlet and processing their farm produces.”

The processed agriculture products include dried and pickled vegetables, fruit jam, powdered vegetables, and packaged local rice.

He said that the outlet would enhance the value of organic products and farmers could fetch a better price.

Currently, Paro is gearing towards gathering organic agriculture products and livestock products.

Tandin said that local cattle that are not fed on imported feeds are primarily organic. “The livestock office has already identified around three farmers groups in Dogar, Naja and Tsento gewog.”

For organic farmers, the new establishment will bring immense benefits. 

Kinley Om from Gabjana of Lungyni gewog has been practising organic farming since her parents’ time. She has certified organic asparagus as of today. 

Her asparagus goes to Paro and Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu like her other vegetables. “We have to invest extra on labourers and attention to organic products,” she said.

She also said production and income were less since they do not use fertilizers and pesticides.

Kinley Om said that the government already trained farmers and committed to help with branding. “The sales outlet would benefit the farmers in marketing their products.”

She said the outlet would differentiate local and organic products, thereby helping the customers choose the certified organic products. “Many vendors and sellers claim local produce as organic, which confuses and deceives buyers.”  

According to Kinley Wangmo from Chimakha, selling organic products in the local market has been challenging. 

She said that except for high-end resorts, she usually sells the produce at farmers markets like other local produce. “The sales outlet would encourage many farmers to take up organic farming not just for profit but for health benefits too.” 

Edited  by Tashi Dema