Only farmers are allowed to sell local produce

Neten Dorji | Trashigang

To help farmers sell their produce, a Sunday market solely for farmers opened in Trashigang on February 5, coinciding with the  Birth Anniversary of His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.

Farmers from Samkhar, Yangner and surrounding areas thronged the market with their produce near the Mani Dungkhor in the centre of the Trashigang town.

The Sunday market is expected to ensure easy market access directly to the farmers of Trashigang and nearby places like Dramitse and Narang gewog in Mongar and Ramjar in Trashiyangtse.

Without a proper place to sell their produce, farmers sold vegetables along footpaths and in front of the hospital and along the roads. Given that selling vegetables on the streets raises issues related to hygiene, safety and littering, concerned authorities intervened and they resorted to doing business from vegetable market sheds.

Farmers said that it was difficult to sell the vegetables when they were at the vegetable shed. “We come all the way from our village in the hope to earn some money. When customers don’t show up at the shed, our vegetables get spoiled,”said Tshering Choden, a villager from Gongthung.

The organic vegetables did not have a separate shed to distinguish their produce in the vegetable market. With the opening of the Sunday market, people can distinguish the local products from imported products. Without a farmers’ market, locals said farmers could not compete with vendors selling imported vegetables.

“The Sunday market will not only benefit us but also help customers to get fresh vegetables at reasonable prices,” said a villager, Ugyen Wangdi. “This initiative would encourage us to grow vegetables on a large scale.”

The Sunday market would also remove the middlemen thereby reducing the price of vegetables. It was learnt that the vegetable prices are comparatively lower at source than the price in the vegetable market. A bundle of spinach costs Nu 20 while it is Nu 30 at the vegetable Market.

A farmer, Gyeltshen said that because of the lack of specific location for farmers, they are forced to sell vegetables at low prices to vegetable vendors. “We are happy that now we don’t have to worry about price and markets.”

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Dorjee said the Sunday market would help to stabilise the price of vegetables in the market.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag administration has drawn a standard operating procedures (SoP)for the Sunday market.

“The dzongkhag agriculture sector and BAFRA will monitor the assurance of local produce and items in the market,” said an official. “We discouraged licensed vendors from operating at designated markets and sale of clothing items.”