Change in import method not to affect vegetable vendors
28 May, Thimphu: The usual Lhew (method) of the vendors going themselves to other countries to buy vegetables is going to be replaced instead by the FCB being the wholesale agent. The Honâ€™ble Prime Minister (PM), His Excellency Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, met with 92 vegetable vendors from all twenty dzongkhags last Friday, May 25. If the submissions by the vegetable vendors during the meeting with the government team are anything to go by they are worried by the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) entering the fray.
Vendors are pessimistic of the Royal Monetary Authorityâ€™s (RMA) decision to stop issuing INR (Indian Rupee) after the first week of June.
Honâ€™ble PM explained that the minor change in modus operandi of vegetable import is but in favour of the vendors themselves. â€śFCB will only import those not available from within our own country and distribute to you all,â€ť His Excellency the Prime Minister clarified 92 vendors gathered at Tarayana hall.
FCB will neither compete nor try to hinder the business of the vegetable vendors. The government has directed FCB not to think of making profits rather to ensure that there is no vegetable crunch in the country at such juncture. â€śThis is more of a social service by FCB to the vendors in particular and Bhutanese people in general.â€ť
The Honâ€™ble PM also informed that FCB will try to just break even by only recovering those expenditures incurred in the import plus the transportation cost. When the vendors make huge profits, foreign imports stifle national vegetable production.
Lyonchen also shared that a few vendors might face small problems when getting vegetables distributed to them by FCB. He advised that such small problems should be converted into opportunities by producing our own home grown vegetables.
The Honâ€™ble Minister for Agriculture and Forests, His Excellency Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho also said that we were at the crossroads of our economy and it is our generation who should try to progress it. The Honâ€™ble Minister also informed that the Ministry is working on ways to make optimal use of fallow land in the country.
â€śIt is also important that farmers form into groups and cooperatives which would help a great deal in terms of quality, grading and sorting, â€ś the Agriculture Minister said to the vendors.
The Finance Secretary who accompanied the team said that FCB would not be given INR to buy vegetables like in the past but would have to go through proper banking channels for the purpose of rupee management.
Most of the vendors present at the meeting accepted that the import of vegetables from other countries has so far discouraged farmers in Bhutan to grow vegetables on a commercial scale. A vendor from Tangmachhu in Lhuentse, Â Wangchuk said we buy and consume everything we import from other countries. He said that besides vegetables, there are also other commodities that trigger Rupee outflow.
The meeting with the vendor was also attended by Agriculture Secretary, Home Secretary, RMA governor, BCCI Secretary General, Agriculture Director and other relevant officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, ICS
Photo by: Choidup Zangpo, ICS