From May this year until yesterday, farmers, who auctioned their potatoes, fetched triple the price they fetched last year.

Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) officials said the quantity of the produce auctioned also doubled this year.

FCBL auction complex recorded 7,583 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes being auctioned so far. At this time last year, the complex auctioned 3,064MT of potatoes.

The price fetched from the potatoes increased to Nu 127 million (M) from Nu 42M in 2017.

FCBL’s complex manager, Ugyen Penjor, said there was demand and the average price was better this year.

“There is a difference of Nu 3 to Nu 4 per kg compared to rates in 2017,” he said. “About 3,500 to 4,000 bags of potatoes are being auctioned every day.”

Potatoes are sold in Kalimpong, Sikkim, Siliguri, Alipurduar, and Nepal. Some also get into the local market in Phuentsholing.

Most of the potatoes are brought from Chukha and Paro. Trashigang, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Wangdiphodrang, Bumthang, and Thimphu are other places from where potatoes are brought to auction in Phuentsholing.

A farmer, Phuntsho Dhendup, who auctioned potatoes on August 13 and had come to collect his payment yesterday, said the price was better this time.“It reached Nu 2,400 per bag, the highest so far.” He said he had auctioned about 29 bags. A bag contains about 40kg to 60kg of potatoes depending upon the size.

Kinley Wangmo from Haa said the price this year was stable but the yields in her fields decreased.

She auctioned 50 bags of potatoes yesterday.

She said it was the harvest from one of her two fields from which more than 100 bags were harvested in 2017. “I still have one more field to harvest.”

Kinley Wangmo said that FCBL had earlier announced to bring potatoes from Haa in September, October and November.

“A few days ago, the corporation announced to bring potatoes for auction,” she said. “It was so confusing.”

She said she was, however, happy that they don’t have to wait much to get the payment.

The highest average price recorded so far is Nu 23 per kg. The maximum current rate of big sized potato is Nu 21.50 unlike last year when the price did not increase more than Nu 18 last year. Small sized potatoes fetch fetching about Nu 7.

Meanwhile, FCBL auction yard has not experience dany congestion problems as of now.

Complex manager Ugyen Penjor said there wouldn’t be any problem, as spaces were being constructed this year.

“The new one is almost complete,” the manager said, adding that it could be still used if there is a rush at the auction.

He said that at least 150 trucks would be accommodated in the new yard. “Arrangements are also made in the existing auction yard and it would house about 80 trucks.”

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing