FCBL eases problems for potato farmers

Much to the relief of potato farmers, the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) has installed better facilities to store and auction potatoes starting this year.

The shortage of parking space at the auction yard has been an issue till last year as hundreds of trucks would remain stranded nearby the auction yard with potatoes still loaded on the trucks.

However, FCBL has extended its storage facility in the existing yard to accommodate more potatoes this year.

It has also opened another storage and conventional auction yard near the sewerage tank. The new auction yard can accommodate more than 100 trucks. There are also provisions for storage, parking and conventional auctioning. However, FCBL needs to beef up the security.

Meanwhile, works have already started for the parking. FCBL has spent more than Nu 1mn of the estimated Nu 3mn on infrastructure development on three acres of land near the sewerage tank.

FCBL’s Chief Executive Officer Naiten Wangchuk told Business Bhutan that efforts to offer best facilities for marketing farmers’ potatoes are prioritized.

“The yard is expected to decongest the main auction yard during the peak season, which starts from July till September. They bring when the rates are higher, which results in parking constraints and jams. The traders also exhaust their money after buying potatoes and there will be limited traders,” he said.

During the peak season, potatoes start to rot when it is kept inside the truck for days. Potato farmers have lost due to rot last year and have had also requested for storage facility. Still there is no storage facility at the current auction yard. The vehicles directly come and auction the product.

Further, FCBL earlier used to let truckers park their vehicles behind the current auction yard, which was later used by the National Housing Development Corporation Limited for construction of low income housing facilities under the ‘Special Housing Scheme’. Since then the problem of parking space constraints had emerged. After the current auction yard is full, truckers during peak season park their vehicles in other areas until their turn comes for the auction.

FCBL has also a separate yard for online auction for farmers above the main auction yard.

Meanwhile, it has also started creating awareness to farmers across the potato growing regions. Chhukha, Paro Haa, Bumthang, Wangduephodrang, Punakha and Trashigang cultivate potatoes as main cash crops.

Meanwhile, potato farmers seem delighted with the news of new facilities. Farmers, who have reached the auction yard, say they have been waiting for additional parking and the storage facilities as Phuentsholing is the preferred destination for their potatoes.

“We have been facing problems without proper storage,” Chimi Dorji, a 29 years old farmer from Paro said.

Another farmer said having additional auction yard and parking facilities would encourage the farmers to cultivate more in the coming years.

“We will work harder if there are spacious parking and storage facilities as we have to wait for days sometimes. It’s very welcoming news,” 26-year-old Phub Dem from Bjabchho in Chhukha said.

Also to decongest the auction yard, FCBL will also start queuing system, where farmers can register with the office and wait for their turn for the auction without having to rush during the peak season.

This, according to the CEO, is expected to decongest the auction yard and promote smooth auctioning processes for traders and the farmers. “We are hoping the system to work properly if farmers cooperate with us,” he said.

Meanwhile, interested farmers who want to take their potatoes to the auction yard can contact the auction yard manager for dates and other necessary information.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing