Farmers fetch season’s highest potato price

With potato price increasing by the day this export season, there is optimisn and happiness at the humid Phuentsholing auction yard as farmers are all smiles.

The highest price recorded until yesterday was Nu 36 per kg. More and more farmers are bringing their potatoes to the auction yard after a brief period of hoarding last month. Starting from May 1 to October 2, the yard auctioned 11,017 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes worth Nu 224 million (M). During the same time last year, about 16,735MT of potatoes worth Nu 316M were auctioned.

FCBL complex manager Ugyen Penjore said the overall arrival by the end of season would either increase or remain the same like last year’s.

“There are already 80 to 90 truckloads in queue at the parking space,” he said.

The manager said that the yard would remain closed from October 6 to October 9 due to Dashera festival. After this festival, arrivals would increase drastically.

A potato grower, Sangay Phuntsho, who auctioned 80 bags of potatoes yesterday, said there were less hassles these days.

“The price is also better,” he said.

His only concern was that he would have to wait for another five days before getting the payment because of the closing of auction due to festival. However, FCBL gives certain amount from the payment as advance, which he said helped farmers.

Sangay Phuntsho said the yield have increased this year. Last year he brought just 58 bags of potatoes compared to this year’s 80.

Meanwhile, the online auction is also picking up gradually. Most farmers still prefer the conventional auction procedure.

Tshering Wangchuk, a farmer from Bumthang chose the online method this time.

“FCBL officials said online auction is better and fetches higher returns,” he said, adding he would also get paid faster.

Tshering Wangchuk said he would be paid the next day after his produce is auctioned. The farmer has brought 120MT of the tuber this time and expects better returns.

Potato trading went online in September 2017. The Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan (RSEB) in collaboration with FCBL launched the system under the commodity market initiative with one grading machine installed.

Two more grading machines were later installed at the Phuentsholing auction yard.

From May 1 to October 2, FCBL auctioned 545MT of potatoes online. In 2018, a total of 1,445MT was auctioned online.

RSEBL has a target to auction about 30 percent of potato arrivals online this year.

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