Potato farmers in east fetching better price as auction begins

Potato farmers in the eastern districts are getting fairly better prices for their potatoes this season as compared to last year. Potato auction for this season is underway at the Samdrup Jongkhar auction yard. Due to to better quality and lack of potato in Indian market currently, the price has increased by up to Nu 6 per kilogramme for large potatoes this time. Potato is one of the main sources of income for many villagers in the six eastern districts.

Potatoes from five eastern districts are brought at Samdrup Jongkhar auction yard for sale. Most of the villagers sell potatoes in the village to a middleman, which are then brought to the auction yard.

Yesterday, for a kilogramme of large potatoes, price went up to Nu 26. Last year, when the auction started, prices went up to only Nu 22.

Sonam Dorji, a potato middleman in Monggar said, “Sometimes we fetch high prices and sometimes we fetch low. Villagers depend on potatoes, so we feel happy when we fetch a good price. I got Nu 26 for large potatoes, so I feel it is a good price.”

Similarly, Passang Tobgay, who is also a potato middleman in Samdrup Jongkhar said, “I paid Nu 20 for a kilogramme to villagers at Khaling in Trashigang and after bringing here at the auction, I fetched Nu 26. So, I am getting a six-ngultrum profit. Compared to last year, the price is better now. As a businessman, I feel happy when prices are high and we can also pay good prices to villagers.”

Bidders from across the border say the price depends on the quality of potatoes and price goes down if grading is not done properly.

Abdual Kader, an Assamese bidder said potatoes, which are not properly graded, and those of lower quality do not fetch good prices. “The ones, which are graded properly and are of good quality, we pay good prices. Yesterday, I paid Nu 27 per kilogramme,” he said.

Some of the potatoes, which are not graded properly, fetched only Nu 23 to Nu 24 per kilogramme yesterday.

Meanwhile, officials from the Food Corporation of Bhutan in Samdrup Jongkhar say they have been giving awareness to villagers to segregate large and small potatoes separately. The officials also say that potatoes are not mature enough to grade in a grading machine currently.

The Food Corporation of Bhutan, based in Samdrup Jongkhar, has auctioned about three truckloads of potatoes in the last three days.

Last year more than 1,700 metric tonnes of potatoes were auctioned at Samdrup Jongkhar.

Kinley Wangchuk, Samdrup Jongkhar

Edited by Kipchu

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