Opposition slams govt. for inefficient handling of farmers’ agricultural produce

The Opposition Leader explained that vegetables from Bhutan, for example, are not on the list of imports allowed into India

Following media reports that farmers from the southern, central and western parts of the country are not able to sell their vegetable produce this season, Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi issued a press release on July 2 describing the situation as disheartening.

“The main causes of this unfortunate problem, as we understand it, are the government’s inefficient buyback system and the fact that our agricultural products are not allowed to be exported to India because of cracks in the trade agreement between the two countries,” he said. 

Further, the Opposition Leader explained that vegetables from Bhutan, for example, are not on the list of imports allowed into India.

“This is a big problem for our farmers and the future of Bhutan’s agriculture sector. Such situations do not fit with the country’s aspiration to maximize domestic food production to achieve minimum food security, increase employment opportunities in the agriculture sector and maintain and deepen the vitality of rural communities. Besides, many farmers who could not sell their vegetables have taken loans from the National Cottage and Small Industries (NCSIB),” the Opposition Leader added. 

According to him, the opposition party’s survey of farmers, especially those from the southern, central and western regions, made it clear that tons of vegetables could not find a market this time. Farmers had to dump their vegetables into rivers and feed them to cattle after they could not sell them. While farmers of Naja in Paro suffered a huge financial loss after they had to leave their cabbage to rot, farmers of Zhemgang, Sarpang and Dagana are struggling to sell their chilies.
The aim of Zhemgang Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector is to produce about 20MT green chilies this season. Zhemgang farmers are struggling to sell green chilies even though the price has been reduced by nearly 70% from the original price of Nu 300 per kilogram. Chili is one of the main sources of income for Zhemgang farmers.

The Opposition Party maintained that the government encouraged farmers to increase their agricultural production to meet the demand after the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country in March 2020.
Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi said that the inability to sell farm produce will discourage farmers from engaging in agriculture and if not resolved, this could lead to many related economic and social problems.

“The Opposition Party believes that leaving farmers in financial debt and serious impact on the country’s food security are the immediate consequences and that the government must address this problem immediately,” states the press release.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Party recommended the government to improve the buyback system with a guaranteed minimum price, solve the problems related to export of vegetables to India and improve the link between production and the domestic market.

The party also mentioned to focus on improving grading, packaging and quality of exportable farm produce.
“Considering the recent parliamentary ratification of the Preferential Trade Agreement between Bhutan and Bangladesh, the government should explore the Bangladeshi market,” said the Opposition Leader. 

Chencho Dema from Gelephu