Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited’s (FCBL) office in Samdrupjongkhar could not auction the potatoes yesterday as the bidders could not meet the FCB’s base price.

The FCBL’s base price was Nu 25.5 a kilogram (kg) of big potatoes, while the bidders quoted up to Nu 24 a kg. About 24 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes reached the auction yard from Drametse in Mongar yesterday.

However, farmers of the eastern dzongkhags will not have to take their potatoes to the auction yard in Samdrupjongkhar. FCBL has deployed two teams to collect the produce from the villages on July 14.

The FCBL paid Nu 24 for big, Nu 14 for medium and Nu 10 for small potatoes, while the FCBL also bore the transportation charges. Last year the price ranged between Nu 18 and Nu 26 for big, Nu 14 and Nu 24 for medium, and Nu 12 and Nu 16 for small potatoes. 

Since bidders cannot come to the auction yard to quote their prices and conduct the online auction, the auction yard officials take photos of the products and upload them online in the WhatsApp group. Bidders then quote their price. 

A complex manager, Sawdev Koirala, said, “Although we deployed teams into villages, we allow farmers to bring products to the auction yard.” 

He said the potato business would be a loss this year because of abundance and low prices in India. “We’re doing the best to help farmers.” 

“We face payment and banking problems because most of the Indian bidders don’t have bank accounts. It would help if the concerned authorities could allow us the cash handling at the border gate. We also have a cash box at the gate,” the manager said. 

He said a vehicle could be allowed to enter the gate multiple times to ease the transportation problems to India.

Edited by Tshering Palden