English | Dzongkha Saturday, July 24, 2021

Farmers disappointed with cabbage export restrictions


Jun 23, 2021

The farmers of Nagya Gewog in Paro are known for the mass cultivation of cabbages. But with the Indian government excluding cabbages in the export list, farmers of Nagya Gewog are caught off guard. The farmers from Wanakha, Zursoona and Tsoendu Goenpa villages under Nagya Gewog have been facing difficulty to sell cabagge at the local market. 

“In our villages, paddy cultivation is not possible and fruits do not grow as well. The other gewogs can sustain through other agricultural produce. However, our main source of income is cabbage besides a few options such as potatoes, carrots and beans. To sustain our livelihoods, all our family members cultivate cabbage. That’s why we are not worried about the price that much but we would be grateful if the government could open FCB for us,” said Gogo, a farmer from Nagya Gewog, Paro

“In the past, we used to fetch around Nu 400 for a sack of cabbage. Today, the price has gone down to Nu 350 and Nu 250. We aren’t able to recover the production costs due to the pandemic. We are concerned as we have to sustain our livelihoods and pay the tuition fees for our children,” said Thinley Wangmo, another farmer from Nagya Gewog.

With almost a hundred pick-up loads of cabbages flooding the market every day, paying parking fees due to traffic congestion has added another challenge to the farmers.

“The parking fee here is quite expensive compared to the parking it outside. And when it comes to entering the gate, people who come early in the morning enter first than those who have been waiting outside by midnight. It is unfair to us. Even after entering the gate and getting the parking, it would be better if we can stay the whole day and sell our produce. But we are allowed to park our car only for two hours creating a traffic jam here,” said Namgay Wangchuk, a farmer from Nagya Gewog.

“Last year, with the government’s support, a market was opened at Damchu by FCB to sell our vegetables since the outbreak of the COVID. It is not that we did not bear loss last year but we did not have to bear a 100 per cent loss. This year, we are putting an effort to look for buyers and we even received calls from the Indian counterparts demanding cabbages,” said Chencho, another farmer from Nagya Gewog.

Chencho added, “I was preparing to export cabbage to the border, they said that it was not allowed to go out from Jaigoan gate. Then I brought it here to Thimphu and sold it at the rate of Nu 200 per sack of cabbage. I tried selling it in Thimphu, Paro, and Wangdue Phodrang only to be disappointed. I could not fetch a good price as there are not enough buyers.”

The country produces a total of 10,000 to 15,000 MT of cabbages every year. The agriculture and forests ministry has proposed an additional list of seven commodities to the export list to the Indian government. The commodities include chillies, beans, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, peas, and soybeans.

“In the past, we used to export cabbages but this time it had to be stopped as cabbage is not enlisted in the IceGate System of the Indian government. As cabbage is grown for export, it would be difficult for the farmers to sell all in the country. The main reason to stop the export is from the side of the Indian government. Therefore, we are constantly discussing the issue with the Indian government,” said Yonten Gyamtsho, the Chief Marketing Officer of the agriculture ministry.

The ministry has scheduled a bilateral virtual meeting with the Indian government to address the issue. As per the ministry, if the decision is not in favour, the ministry plans to implement the buyback policy soon.

Kinzang Lhadon

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