Pachu residents unhappy over closure of farm shop

According to FCBL, they are planning to close down all the farm shops and not just the one in Pachu

The people of Pachu gewog in Phuentsholing are not happy with the closure of the only farm shop in the gewog last week.

Without the farm shop, where most people got their essential items and animal feeds from, they say getting access to the feeds will now be an issue for everyone.

One of the residents, Dil Badhur Mongar said, “Without a farm shop and personal vehicle, it will be a hard time for me and others.”

He added that the animal feeds cost Nu 1,650 in town without the hiring charge for a vehicle. “If one buys from the farm shop, then there is no hassle of having to hire a vehicle.”

The management of the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) had also notified the residents of Pachu gewog about the closure of the farm shop.

According to the FCBL’s notification, the decision for closure was made by the FCBL as the Pachu farm shop operator is being transferred to the Corporate Head Office.

Phuentsholing Gup Birkha Rai said the farm shop used to be the main centre for the farmers to purchase animal feeds, rice and oil.

“The farm shop was made for the people by the government as part of a developmental activity and everyone out here had requested the government to continue with the farm shop,” he said, adding that people are now concerned about its closure.

“There was no consultation with us about the closure. I think the decision has been made from the head office itself as we didn’t know about the permanent closure of the farm shop,” the Gup said.

 “As it was done in once, we are currently discussing about the closure and its alternatives. We are also receiving a lot of complaints from the people on the closure of the farm shop, so we are discussing with the FCBL for alternative or to continue with the farm shop,” he added.

Talking to Business Bhutan, FCBL’s business director Dorji Tashi said the closure has been initiated as a whole and not only at the Pachu farm shop as the farm shop has been a loss to the FCBL.

The private sector has also been complaining to the FCBL that their income is being blocked with the creation of such farm shops in the gewog centers, according to Dorji Tashi.

“We are planning to close down all the farm shops because the private sector has been affected by it, and even the interested entrepreneurs are discouraged to start a business if such farm shop is there blocking their way to move forward with new innovative businesses.”

He added that even the government has been encouraging FCBL to go wholesale rather than being a retail shop like the farm shop, as being retail has been affecting those people who are doing retail businesses.

Talking about the closure of the farm shop at Pachu, he said there is a shortage of manpower at the head office and the office had to bring the official. “Currently, it is a temporary closure but soon all the farm shops will be closed,” Dorji Tashi said. 

Regarding people’s dependence on animal feeds in Pachu, Dorji Tashi said the office will talk with the local representatives and send the required animal feeds accordingly to the demand of the people. “As and when they require, the FCBL will be issuing the required things to Pachu,” he said.

 “If we can close all the farm shops then the opportunity for the youths and entrepreneurs can be opened,” Dorji Tashi said, adding that the farm shops will be opened only in remotes places in the country just to make people have access to essential items.  “People should not get discouraged as the FCBL will be providing essential items even with the closure of the farm shops.”

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing