Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Potato trading has been improving steadily in the last few years. Although the harvest from the fields from across the country fluctuates, the trading in terms of earnings have been increasing, figures shared by the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) revealed.

This year, Phuentsholing auction yard received and traded 25,200 metric tonnes (MT) of the tuber until Wednesday, which is worth Nu 619 million (M). The final figures could change with the yard still receiving potatoes.

In 2018, Phuentsholing auction yard traded 25,264MT of potatoes worth Nu 541.5M. In 2017, the yard auctioned 19,645MT of potatoes worth Nu 280M.

The complex manager with the corporation, Ugyen Penjor, said the highest price fetched this year was Nu 53 per kilogram (kg). Although it is slightly lower than the highest price fetched last year, which is Nu 58 per kg, the overall rate farmers auctioned their produce was better this year.

The average price this year is Nu 24.57 per kg compared to that of Nu 22.29 in 2018 and Nu 18 in 2017. Potatoes were selling soldat Nu 27 per kg on Wednesday.

“Potatoes from Bumthang and Phobjikha sold well this year,” he said, adding that the demand for the seeds from India had increased drastically with equal increase in price.

Despite farmers hoarding their produce and bringing the produce late for auction, the complex manager said the prices were still good. In 2018, auction almost closed by November 25.

However, auction activities have come down with the season’s last arrivals coming at the yard.

Duba, 58, from Phobjikha brought two truckloads on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, online potato auction has also increased this year. More farmers opted the new system over the conventional one.

Online system, which is now closed now recorded an auction of 1,832MT worth Nu 48.7M this year. It auctioned 1,443MT of potatoes worth Nu 37.7M in 2018.

Online auction started in September 2017. FCBL in collaboration with Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan (RSEB) had launched the system under the commodity market initiative. The new system was able to auction 1,147MT of potatoes worth Nu 17.3M in its first year.

In his visit at the FCBL office in October this year, the finance minister Namgay Tshering has also committed to Nu 20M for procuring another two grading machines.