The vegetable season has begun but farmers who sold their first produce – peas – at the Food Corporation Limited (FCBL) auction yard in Phuentsholing were disappointed at the throwaway prices.
A sack containing up to 40 kilogram of peas was auctioned at Nu 500 which comes to over Nu 12 per kilo. Farmers regretted having travelled long distances to reach their produce to the auction yard. With limited bidders they were compelled to sell their produce very cheap. “It used to be better in the previous years,” said 48-year-old Penjor from Shaba Paro who brought 20 sacks of peas.
Due to elections in India, most traders have left to cast their votes, which is considered the prime reason for the low price. They are expected to return to business only in June. Also places in North Bengal like Darjeeling and Sikkim have started supplying vegetables at cheaper rates.Peas are already available in Siliguri, a probable destination for Bhutanese peas.
Though the auction yard is reopened, only a few traders have taken part in the auction. Till yesterday 230 bags of peas were sold by eight farmers. Initially peas fetched price up to Nu 4,640 per quintal up from Nu 2,400 this year.
Phajo, a 67-year-old farmer from Paro said she would get better prices in Thimphu and Paro vegetable markets than what she got in Phuentsholing. After paying Nu 600 a day for labor back in the village with two meals, these farmers said they are at loss. Phajo said she will now try to sell her remaining peas either in Paro of Thimphu.
Meanwhile, FCB’s Auction Manager, UgyenPenjor, said that with limited bidders, farmers had no choice but to sell at lower rates. He said that price is expected to be better when the number of bidders increases. “Also, the bidders pay based on the quality which might not have satisfied them,” he said.
FCBL resumed its auctioning service in their main auction yard in Phuentsholing from May 8this year. As the availability of peas in the Indian market is on decline, the price is expected to increase progressively. The auction of vegetables continues till October when mostly potatoes from west and central region arrives.
Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing