Agriculture: Potato farmers across the country are fetching better prices than last year at the auction yard in Phuentsholing. Along with the good prices, production is also better this year.

Officials at the auction yard of the Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) in Phuentsholing said that the current average price of large potatoes has reached Nu 26.51 per kilogram (kg).

“This is a very good price,” the auction yard’s manager Purna Tamang said.

Last year at around the same time, large-sized potatoes fetched Nu 18.06/kg. The price of the medium potatoes is Nu 24.57/kg this year, while it was Nu 15.44/kg last year at the same time.

The highest average price recorded this year is Nu 50/kg. So far, Nu 54/kg is the highest average price that buyers paid in 2014.

Meanwhile, local potato growers said that prices have been consistent this year unlike past years. Although potatoes fetched a record high price in 2014, farmers will still profit this year because of stable prices.

“The good thing about this year is also the payment FCBL makes now,” the auction yard’s manager said, adding that the corporation pays farmers in three days, which was not the case in previous years. “Farmers do not have to wait for many days now.”

FCBL has been approved to have an overdraft (OD) facility of about Nu 100 million. Even if potato buyers do not make payments on time and delay the collection, farmers are paid from the OD facility.

Despite the prolonged and heavier monsoon this year, 13,256 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes were brought to the auction yard between May 1 and October 26, which is an increase of more than 15 percent. During the same period last year, the FCBL auction yard in Phuentsholing received 10,955MT of potatoes.

A potato farmer from Phobjikha, Sonam Tshering,  had to wait for three days to unload his potatoes due to the large number of farmers bringing potatoes to the yard.

“After it is unloaded, it will be auctioned and then the payment will be made in three days,” Sonam Tshering said. “It’s good that the payment is quicker now.”

Another grower from Phobjikha, Phuentsho, however, did not have time to wait for his turn at the auction yard. He unloaded his produce at a private auction yard in Phuentsholing. “It has not yet been auctioned,” he said.

Phuentsho said production this year has been better than last year.

The auction yard handles more than 50 truckloads of potatoes daily that are brought from Phobjikha, Bumthang, Wangdue, and Chapcha.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing