Assembly: Lunana gewog in Gasa will receive its Sonam tshongkhag (farm shop) by December, according to the agriculture and forests minister Yeshey Dorji.

Lyonpo, responding to Khamaed-Lunana MP Pema Drukpa on Friday during the National Assembly’s Question Hour, said that the opening of farm shops in highlands has been expedited and prioritised.

He said the plan is for a farm shop to be opened on December 9. “The ministry has already  received the lists of items from the people and gewog office for their shop as per their requirement,” Lyonpo said.

The ministry has decided to transport goods for the shop by helicopter since transporting manually would take too long.

Farm shops are being opened with the objective to facilitate marketing of agriculture produce in the villages. “The farm shop is also to supply agricultural and livestock tools to the remoter gewogs,” he said.

For instance, seeds, hoes, shovels and fertiliser are sold in the farm shops. Sonam tshongkhangs also deal in the sale of other goods as required by respective gewogs, Lyonpo said.

The minister also said that Sonam tshongkhangs has been received well and the ministry has been receiving applications for more Sonam tshongkhangs.

The gewog will also get its power tiller on December 9. Lyonpo said though a power tiller will be issued there is no road connectivity to Lunana. However, the gewog will be given a power tiller since local informed the Prime Minister during his visit there that it would be of tremendous help to move from village to village.

“We have readied to transport the power tiller to Lunana before the inauguration date,” Lyonpo said.

As of now, the minister said 86 of the total 205 gewogs have Sonam tshongkhangs and some of them are in the highlands like in Merak and Laya.

“Now the ministry is preparing to open even in Soe, Naro, Lingzhi and Sakteng,” he said.

But Nubi-Tangsibji MP Nidup Zangpo asked the minister what the ministry is doing to address issues raised by shopkeepers whose business were affected because of farm shops selling groceries.

Problems are bound to occur and accordingly solutions have to be explored said Lyonpo.

For instance, though the Rangjung farm shop was facing problems, it wasn’t closed after stopping the sale of grocery. Now the shop deals in sale of farm tools, seeds, fertilisers and farm produce.

Otherwise, the farm shop has been welcomed and received well in most of the areas. “Moreover, we also ask the gewogs and people to submit their own lists as per their needs,” he said.

But the minister said that in some places the farm shops dealing in sale of groceries have also been received well since the shops have been buying goods from it to replenish their stocks. “For instance, in Zhemgang people told Lyonchoen during his visit that the farm shop has helped small-time shops since they don’t have to travel to Gelephu and Phuentsholing to replenish their stock spending huge sums of money,” Lyonpo said.

Tempa Wangdi