Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Export price of potatoes has dropped.

According to the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL), the auction price dipped since October 25 this year.

Although there has been a slight improvement in the last three days, a kilogram of large-sized potatoes was auctioned at Nu 20 to Nu 24 yesterday, which is a drop from Nu 26 to Nu 30. Medium-sized potatoes were auctioned at Nu 12 to Nu 14, a drop from Nu 18 to Nu 22. Small- and marble-sized potatoes were auctioned at as low as Nu 6 and Nu 2 respectively.

Usually, prices are better around this time of the season, especially the price of the seed potatoes. However, Punjab seeds have hit the market.

The prices of seed potatoes also decreased due to the entry of middlemen during the pandemic time in 2020 and 2021.

As seed potatoes from Chapcha, Chukha was in huge demand before the pandemic due to better production records, middlemen started to sell low-quality seeds from other places as Chapcha seeds, FCBL auction yard’s complex manager in Phuentsholing, Ugyen Penjor, said.

“This decreased the production,” he said, adding that is when the price crumbled.

Potato seeds were mostly exported to Alipur and some parts of Bihar in India.

Another reason for the falling price is also because Bhutanese farmers hoard potatoes despite having seasonal advantage (and freshness). If farmers don’t hoard, the season will be over by mid-November.

As farmers hoard hoping for higher prices, Indian potatoes from the cold storages hit the market bringing in the competition.

Meanwhile, due to the drop in the potato prices, a huge number of trucks are queued the auction door. Some farmers have waited for more than a week.

“Despite this, FCBL has been able to auction them all,” the complex manager said.

A total of 177 truckloads of potatoes have been auctioned. It accounts for 4,522.2 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes worth Nu 73.9 million (M).

Until yesterday, starting from June, FCBL’s auction yard in Phuentsholing has auctioned a total of 7,544.6MT of potatoes worth Nu 147M.

Pem Gyeltshen, a farmer from Chapcha, said that he has auctioned two truckloads of potatoes so far and made about Nu 110,000.

“Last year, two truckloads earned me around Nu 320,000.”