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Ready market for local produce, provided …

… high quality, low cost and steady supply of fruits and vegetables can be assured

Department Of Agricultural Marketing And Cooperatives: If local farmers and producers can ensure constant supply of a good variety of high quality fruits and vegetables, which is reasonably priced, hotels and institutions are ever ready to buy them, a recent study by the department of agricultural marketing and cooperatives (DAMC) suggests.

The study found the western districts of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue and Haa consume 33.2MT (metric tonnes) of vegetables, 6.2MT of fruits and 6.2MT of meat, both local and imported, every week.

A total of 76 hotels and institutions were surveyed for the study, DAMC marketing officer, Karma Tenzin, said, adding that, through the survey, the idea was to create a link between hotels and institutions and local farmers and producers, so that the country can reach self-sufficiency in vegetable production within the next two years.

“The survey has indicated that both hotels and institutions prefer local vegetables and fruits, if the farmers can ensure consistent supply at a reasonable price,” he said.

Of 76 respondents, 91 percent of them pointed out that, if farmer producers are able to provide consistent supply and variety, which is reasonably priced, hoteliers and institutions are ready to a sign contract agreement for purchasing local vegetables and fruits.

However, at present, these hotels and institutions still prefer imported fruits and vegetables, since they are comparatively cheaper than local produce, the study found.

Karma Tenzin said, since the quantity of vegetables required is high, most farmers cannot meet the requirements, which led hotels and institutions to buy imported vegetables. “Even in institutions, such as schools and training institutes, they always prefer imported vegetables, because it’s cheaper,” he said.

Recently, 28 interested vendors from the Centenary farmers’ market were taken on a tour to Dagana and Chukha dzongkhags by DAMC, so that vendors could build links with the farmers for direct supply, Karma Tenzin said.

“In this way, some of the transportation charges faced by the farmers will also be saved, and a consensus on price can be reached as well,” he said.

This is the second study conducted by DAMC from October to November this year. “The first study was conducted only in the capital with 13 high end hotels, where we weren’t in the position to draw such conclusions,” he said.

At the start of the 10th plan in 2008, these five districts had an estimated population of 196,419 with the maximum living in Thimphu dzongkhag (94,102) and the minimum in Haa (12,475).

By Thinley Zangmo

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