Agriculture: Of late, the ground floor of the weekend vegetable market shed in Trashigang (Methidrang) town witnessed an increase in vendors and customers unlike in the past.

Farmers from the three gewogs of Samkhar, Bidung and Bartsham, among others thronged the market shed with their local produce. Many more had to settle for spaces along the approach road to the market.

With the market shed remaining underutilised for years, the agriculture department is trying to revive the Sunday marketing practice again.

Mostly about fresh and plenty of green local vegetables, the Sunday marketing was reintroduced more than a week ago.

Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (DAO) DC Bhandari said such a practice had waned in Trashigang with time. “To encourage farmers, our department bears the transportation cost while the dzongkhag administration buys the left over vegetables,” he said.

The department is also advocating both vendors and customers to reduce the use of polythene carry bags. Customers are being urged to bring their own baskets.

However, DC Bhandari said that the dzongkhag administration would provide support during the first few weeks until the vendors are well settled and people are aware. “The vendors, mostly farmers would be able to sustain themselves by then,” he said.

Similar practices are also being supported by the dzongkhag administration in a number of other gewog hubs. For instance, farmers of Shongphu, Radhi and Phongmey would be selling their produce at Rangjung.

Kanglung gewog, a place with the highest resident population will also have their own vegetable shed. The idea is similar with Khaling and Wamrong.

The revival of Sunday marketing is expected to benefit various vegetable groups in the gewogs. Although these groups already cater to educational institutes, their market would become wider and it would enable them to earn more.

Agriculture officials said that currently most farmers run into losses when they try to cash in through vegetables owing to lack of consumers given the difference in the prices. Imported vegetables always sell the most in the markets.

Farmers said that as vegetables fall prey to diseases and attacks by wild animals, they refrain from growing vegetables in large scale. Should there be good production, the agriculture ministry also looks forward for exports to India during the lean seasons.

A shopkeeper from Yangtse, Lemo said that things are beginning to change now. Although she is not entitled to the benefits of the temporary buyback system, Lemo says most Bhutanese customers are inching towards organic produce.

“Some urban dwellers do prefer local vegetables and most farmers of Trashigang made good money after the Sunday marketing started,” she said.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang