Addressing bottlenecks in marketing agricultural produce

One of the main resolutions was to henceforth meet annually to harmonize the work plans of various agencies to avoid duplication and share resources wherever possible 

The marketing of agricultural products for farmers across the country is expected to improve in the future with many government and non-government agencies agreeing to work in close collaboration.  

With multiple agencies working to support farmers in providing marketing services to them and other stakeholders, there are duplications in efforts like capacity building of the stakeholders, group formation, establishment of market infrastructure and market facilitations.  

In a three-day workshop organized by the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), one of the main resolutions was to henceforth meet annually to harmonize the work plans of various agencies to avoid duplication and share resources wherever possible.  

The Department of Trade agreed to create trade information portal linked with ITC database to inform interested exporters and business firms to facilitate export of agricultural products to the market.

Despite many opportunities for State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to work with farmers, traders and exporters in agri business, lack of fund is still a major constraint. For this, the agriculture and forests ministry was recommended to request finance to provide Over Draft Facility to these SOEs.

While participation in trade fairs by SOES, private sector and farmers are seen as important marketing tool, the high cost to participate has hampered them. It was recommended that Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry look at different pricings to look at the possibility of reducing stall charges for agricultural products.

DAMC’s Director General Ugyen Penjore said one of the many issues is the silo functioning of so many government and non-government actors such as departments and agencies, SOEs and business associations; all of which are actually striving to deliver quality services to the primary stakeholders.

“So the need was felt to bring all the stakeholders together and discuss on how they can better collaborate and cooperate as we embark on the 12th Plan,” he said.  

It was also recommended that contract farming be pursued more vigorously as business modalities by SOEs and other companies when working with farmers to ensure consistent quality and quantity of raw materials. The contract farming, it was agreed, will also ensure assured markets for the farmers and provide consistent source of income to the farmers.

Meanwhile, the relevant agencies will implement the passed resolutions upon approvals from the parent ministry or the relevant authorities.

DAMC organized the three-day meeting and saw participation from the Department of Trade, Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Park Services, FCBL, Farm Machinery Corporation Limited, MCL, Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation, One Gewog One Product (OGOP), BCCI and Bhutan Exporters Association.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing