S/Jongkhar gets potato grading machine

The farmers in the east will now have better income with the launch of online auctioning service at Samdrup Jongkhar. Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) and Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan Limited (RSEBL) have installed potato grading machine and online auction portal in FCB’s auction yard aimed at rendering faster, efficient and convenient auctioning service to the farmers.   

The installation of grading facilities and online auctioning service was first initiated in 2016 on  trial basis in Phuentsholing.

With the service, now the farmers’ effort in marketing is expected to minimize unlike auctioning through conventional means. The eastern farmers opting to sell through online auction can now directly reach their potato to Samdrup Jongkhar auction yard avoiding travel to Phuentsholing. The machine would also reduce farmers’ work load in grading at home which otherwise is time consuming.   

Pramod Chhetri, RSEBL’s General Manager said that the very objective of online auctioning is to bring in fair price discovery and direct benefit to the farmers. “It would benefit the farmers as the auction is digitally done and the farmers reap direct benefit without middle men. The eastern farmers can now sell their potatoes with ease,” he said.

Installing grading machine in Samdrup Jongkhar would also encourage farmers in the east to grow more potatoes. Farmers of almost every dzongkhag in the east practice potato cultivation which is also a prime source of income.  

Samdrup Jongkhar is the second one after Phuentsholing FCB auction yard to get potato grading machine. One set of machine costs around Nu 7mn. 

FCBL had traded 316MT of potatoes in 2016 followed by a huge increment of 1,147TM of potatoes in 2017 and another 1,443MT of potatoes in 2018. After it proved successful, FCBL had launched a similar facility in Samdrup Jongkhar for the people of eastern Bhutan.

The online commodity exchange or e-auction is an initiative supported by RSEBL primarily aimed at commercializing farm produce and standardizes the quality which would help to fetch a better price. Supported by RSEBL, FCBL currently renders grading services to potato growers through the operation of three grading machines.

In pursuit of promoting online auctioning service, FCBL wishes to install grading machines in different parts of the country in the near future to provide convenient grading facility at source.

RSEBL is also working with FCBL to start online cardamom auction. “With more international traders through online auction, farmers would get best prices,” said Pramod Chhetri. However, it is not confirmed when the online cardamom auction would start. Both FCBL and RSEBL are discussing on the budget and other obligations to be fulfilled before kicking off the e-auction.

Krishna Ghalley from SamdrupJongkhar