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East Bhutan supplies bumper potato crop

August 18, 2011
With more and more villages getting connected with farm roads, the Samdrupjongkhar auction yard is experiencing an increase flow of potatoes, according to officials.

Food Corporation of Bhutan manager Purna Tamang in the border town said the potato supply at the auction yard has increased by almost 77 percent between June and this week this year, compared with the same period last year.

The yard received 2,035.70 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes from farmers in the six eastern dzongkhags this year, a significant increase from 849.7MT last year. This is 33,928 bags of potatoes compared to 14,163 bags last year.

The increase, the manager said, was because of accessibility in most gewogs of the eastern dzongkhags, where many villagers now bring their produce to auction to sell to Indian buyers. “Each villager brings not less than 50 bags of potatoes,” he said. “The sellers have also increased, because villagers are now willing to sell, even if their yield’s a few bags of potatoes,” he added.

The number of farmers bringing potatoes to the auction yard has also increased. He said the auction yard requires only about 50 bags from each seller a day, but villagers bring more than required these days. “However, the demand for potatoes in India has also increased,” manager said.

Potatoes are supplied to Rangia, Nalbari and Barpeta towns in Assam state, who are the largest buyers. “Few are supplied to Rauta and Tangla villages across the border for domestic use,” Purna Tamang said. “Buyers prefers Kanglung gewog’s potatoes, most because the red colour potatoes from Kanglung are considered the best in terms of quality by the buyers.” Samdrupjongkhar FCB today has 44 registered regular buyers from India.

The average rate of potatoes also saw an increase this year. Red potatoes increased from Nu 9.56 to Nu 10.27 a kg, while white potatoes also increased from Nu 7.47 per kg to Nu 8.39 this year. “We expect the same flow of supply until December this year,” the manager said.

Meanwhile, some farmers, who had come to the yard, are waiting for the indefinite strike in Assam to get over to sell their potatoes. The strike, which started yesterday, has left some farmers worried, who had already brought their potatoes to Samdrupjongkhar. But the manager said that many farmers have started making use of the mobile connection in the village to plan their trips to the auction yard. “Many a time they’re saved from coming to Samdrupjongkhar and wait for days,” he said.

Purna said strike brings little difference to the business. “These days, many villagers use mobile, so they enquire beforehand,” he said, adding villagers are saved from coming to Samdrupjongkhar and wasting time.

The increase in demand and decrease in production of potatoes in India has also led to an increase in the rate of potatoes compared to last year.

The strike is expected to be over today.