Phuentsholing FCBL auctions over 19,000MT of potatoes this year

Despite last hour rush from the farmers, FCBL has managed to complete the auction on time from both conventional and online auctioning

Despite all the hassles during the peak auction season, Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) managed to auction 19,643.79 Metric Tons (MT) of potatoes this season; 269.44MT more compared to the previous year through conventional auction.

Last year, FCB auctioned 19,374.34MT of potatoes, while it auctioned 1,147.10MT through its online auction yard. While FCB’s auction period starts from May to December, October and November months have seen a deluge of farmers frequenting the auction yard this year. FCB auctioned 4,239.47MT and 5,156.97MT of potatoes in these two months respectively. Until October, it is being found that the arrival volume was very low, which drastically enhanced in the following months.

However, the other months have witnessed lower potato arrival compared to the previous year. From May till September, the volume of potatoes auctioned were lower compared to the previous year. While 10.59MT of potatoes was auctioned in May last year, not a single potato arrived at the auction yard this year. Likewise, only 313.49MT of potatoes were auctioned in June this year against 710.02MT that were auctioned last year in the same month. In July, 1,552.76MT was auctioned against 1705.97 in the same month last year. In August, 2588.55MT was auctioned against 3427.58MT of last year. In September, 3420.26 MT was auctioned against 3738.39MT last year.

FCBL’s Auction Manager Ugyen Penjor said during the early month of November, due to a drastic increase in the arrival volume of potatoes at the Phuentsholing auction yard, certain problems beset the farmers bringing in their potatoes.

More than 265 trucks had to wait for the auction to start and farmers waited in queue for more than 19 days.

“FCBL during that time managed to auction daily 30 trucks through the open outcry auction and two trucks through the online auction,” the manager said.

Meanwhile, insufficient parking space at the auction premises and bad road conditions in Khotokha and Trongsa- Wangdue highway also discouraged farmers to bring their produce during the rainy season. “Farmers opted to hoard their potatoes to get better prices despite information dissemination and request by FCBL,” Ugyen Penjor said, adding that over supply at the last months had also lengthened the waiting time.

However, FCBL has initiated auctioning of potatoes directly from the trucks in addition to the normal open outcry auctioning and also increased online auctioning from two to three truckloads to clear the current backlog of 265 trucks within a week.

Also the agency had requested the farmers to halt their transportation until November 25, 2017 to avoid over supply and a possible price drop.

“We have enhanced credit extension and repayment time to the nine major traders who buy the bulk of the produce to boost their buying capacity to reduce the backlog,” Ugyen Penjor said. Also, FCBL as directed by the MoAF, has already planned to undertake the direct purchase at the approved buyback price of Nu.15 per kg based on the quality and grade.

And as the pilot phase of the online auction proved successful, the auctioning of the potatoes through the online commodity exchange platform was formally incepted on September this year. FCBL could auction 1,147.1MT against the target of 1,000MT. The average price for large potato reached to Nu. 21.6, while Medium size A and B fetched Nu. 19.21 and Nu. 19.67 respectively.

Meanwhile, seven regular bidders out of the 47 registered potato bidders have taken part in the online commodity exchange. Also, more than 163 farmers have opted for online auctioning than conventional auction this year. It comprises mainly farmers from Khotokha and Phojikha, followed by farmers from Tang and Chumey in Bumthang.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing