Vegetables to be imported to meet shortage

Though local produces from farmers would be mobilized as much as possible across the zone shops within Thimphu Thromde as the ministry has already rolled out its resources allocation exercise, shortage of supply in vegetables will be met by imports, according to Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor.

The Lyonpo said surplus resources from various Dzongkhags would be transported to other Dzongkhags and Thromdes for distribution in the zonal shops.

“But the imports would be undertaken to fill up the deficiencies,” said Lyonpo.

During the press brief on December 24, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said there have been complaints of non-availability of vegetables, meat and dairy products in some of the zones in Thimphu Thromde.

The Foreign Minister said the agriculture ministry is working to distribute vegetables from the warm places of the country and if these are inadequate, vegetables would be imported and the issue would be resolved within two to three days including the demand for meat and dairy products.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said the Dzongkhag Agriculture Officers, Dzongkhag Livestock Officers, Livestock Production Officers, Regional Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives will facilitate and identify private vendors who would implement aggregation, transportation and distribution of the products.

“Everyone must be mindful as it is a lean season and choices would be limited especially with fresh produces and even with import. Dried items must be a choice on occasions,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor.

The agriculture ministry expects 1,972MT of local vegetable production from the dzongkhags in January next year.

The ministry has targets to produce 11 major vegetables from seven southern Dzongkhags including 1,801MT of chilli, 306MT of onion, 459MT of tomato, 973MT of beans, 57MT of bitter gourd, 87MT of brinjal, 637MT of broccoli, 42MT of carrot, 1,705MT of cauliflower, and 30.6MT of okra.

For the winter months, the agriculture ministry has calculated that there is a deficit of 1,124MT of chilli with 1,744MT production, 892MT of onion deficit with 1,021MT production, 552MT of tomato deficit with 882MT production and 78MT of brinjal deficit with 161MT production.

Similarly, there is a deficit of 36MT of bitter gourd with 11MT produced and 16MT of okra from 32MT produced in the country. However, vegetables namely beans, carrot, and garlic are in surplus along with 2,296MT of cauliflower and 1,050MT of broccoli during winter.

In order to facilitate the seamless distribution of vegetables in 15 super zones and six periphery urban areas of Thimphu consisting of 113 shops, the agriculture ministry has identified 16 wholesalers dealing in fruits and vegetables.

However, those residing in the red zones such as upper Dechencholing, upper and lower Samtenling, Hejo village, Jungshina and Changjalu, and the disabled people and elderly can call 1009 and order for essential items.

The deliveries would be done by Desuups and all payments are to be made through mobile payment prior to delivery of items.

Bhutan imported 17,855MT of fresh vegetables in 2018 and 10,455MT in 2019, which is a decrease of 41% compared to 2018.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu