Last year saw new highs, both in terms of yield and income generated

Agriculture: Following good price at the auction yard, Bhutanese farmers sold more than 26,345 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes, worth Nu 684.10 million in 2014.

This was one of the highest, both in terms of amount and income generated from the sale of potatoes.  The average potato price, for a kilogram, was Nu 38.51, while the highest price received last year was Nu 56.80.

In the previous year, 2013, potato growers produced 26,028MT that fetched them Nu 415.56 million. Although the quantity of potato auctioned didn’t increase much, the earnings were 60 percent more compared with 2013.

Food Corporation of Bhutan ltd (FCBL) officials said that price had played an important changing factor in last year’s potatoes put to auction in the country.

An FCBL official, Bhimraj Gurung, said people brought more potatoes to the yard because of the price. Usually, when the price is low, not many farmers bring their produce to the yard as transportation cost eats into the profit margin.

Phuentsholing auction yard was the busiest of all.  From May 1 until September 4 last year, the yard had auctioned about 7,145MT of potatoes.  Officials also feel that production record was much higher, as a private auction yard has also been operational last year.

This auction yard had auctioned more than 5,000MT, officials said.

Potatoes in Phuentsholing yard come from Phobjikha in Wangduephodrang, Bumthang, Paro, Chukha, and Trongsa.  The six eastern dzongkhags take theirs to Samdrupjongkhar.

The corporation’s chief executive officer, Karma Nidup, said they were able to manage and correct the report for auction, and conducted RNR marketing to help farmers in the rural villages in 2014.

“We sincerely hope that our small initiative in 2014 had made some difference in their life,” the CEO said. “And we look forward to serving them with better services in the coming years to help them generate more cash income and raise their living standards.”

While quantity of vegetables auctioned at the yard decreased last year, compared to that of 2013, records with the corporation office also show that earnings were higher.  With 2,923.39MT auctioned, farmers made Nu 62.72 million in 2014, while it was Nu 55.23 million in 2013 with 2,930.86MT.

The FCBL also auctioned about 24.87MT of fruits like apples, oranges, ginger, areca nut, and pulses.

Among fruits, orange was the highest with 2001.37MT that fetched orange growers Nu 33.37 million, followed by ginger and areca nut.  About 297.25MT of ginger was auctioned, which earned Nu 17 million, while 232.33MT of areca nut was auctioned for about Nu 4.94 million.

However, these figures are only of those that are auctioned at the food corporation’s yards.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing