It is with a big sigh of relief, FCBL exported their last consignment of 8.6mt of potatoes to India which marked the end of export season for 2023. A total of 12,481.96 Mt of agricultural produces were exported to India through FCBL which is less by almost three folds as compared to pre-pandemic season. Potatoes constitutes 83% and vegetables constitutes 12% of the total export through FCBL. The remaining 10% accounts for other commodities like fruits, ginger and arecanut.
The highest arrival of potatoes and vegetables were seen in November with 5028.34 MT followed by October and December with 2876.76MT and 1596.47 MT respectively. The price of potato soared up to remarkable Nu.37/kg in October in Phuentsholing auction yard. However, it started declining from mid of November. The drop in the rate was primarily because of abundance of local production in India and Nepal which lead to lesser demand for Bhutanese potatoes.
Despite our concerted awareness effort to our framers urging them to bring their farm produce soon after harvesting, farmers still continue to hoard their produce expecting higher price which eventually leads to huge influx of huge potato consignments towards the end of the season. The delay in bringing their products for export have also attributed significantly in the price decline.
Ugyen Penjor, the Sr. Complex Manager of FCB says, “growers would have fetched better price had they avoided hoarding”. He added, “FCBL had to literally call the growers, announced through social media and BBS, insisting them to bring their produce to auction yard on time but not many cooperated with us”. Noting this challenges, FCBL plans to make a round of awareness before prior to next auction season which begins around May. Dorji Tashi, the Business Director claims that FCBL went from Gewog to Gewog in Potato growing areas (Bumthang, Chukha, Paro, and Wangdue) and provided them with schedules to bring their potatoes to FCBL auction yards. However, not many have cooperated, perhaps, due to other bigger priorities. He went onto saying that FCBL shall strictly enforce Auction Schedule for different Gewogs next year. So doing, according to the Business Director, will help to make potatoes available when there is a market demand. This will also help to lessen last minutes rush, he added.
The good part this year is that government didn’t have to activate Buyback scheme which is resource intensive. This has helped government to save in millions. FCBL looks forward to a better export season next year.