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Our Growing Opportunity

Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest had ordered the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) to 'temporarily' suspend the import of beans and cauliflowers. Laboratory tests had confirmed that these vegetables contain pesticide beyond permitted 'limit'. 

This is heartening for many Bhutanese farmers. This is truly our opportunity to grow and feed Bhutanese with vegetables grown and nurtured on Bhutanese soil. It is an opportunity to go bigger into farming and turn farming into a financially lucrative venture for our rural farmers, who still continue to grow crops for self-consumption. 

Otherwise, it is difficult for our farmers to compete with literally cheap vegetables that are imported from across the border, where they are grown in much much bigger quantity. Our farmers do not stand a chance at all to compete in the market. Thus, they end up growing only what's enough for their own families - the rest go waste, most of the time. Same thing with dairy and poultry products. Bhutanese farmers should be able to cater enough dairy products to  Bhutanese consumers. Some day soon, we should stop importing cheaper products. I am unsure how healthy these products are, but today, Bhutanese in the urban centers continue to consume imported dairy products. 

We are already self-sufficient in eggs. And we should now explore markets beyond Bhutan for our poultry products. Same thing with our dairy products. 

This is the right time that we seriously think about growing more vegetables enough for all consumers. That way we can stop importing vegetables. I think that is possible. 

Of course, again, sometimes we tend to go wild. Our authorities need to control the prices of these products and make them affordable to everyone. 

Strike the iron while it is hot, they say; we must make use of this import suspension order as a basis to stop importing vegetables from across the border and strive for self-sufficiency in vegetables and other food items - one product at a time. 

Note: Pictures from Kuensel: May 20, 2016

Comments

  1. The little that we produce at home are sold at a relatively higher prices than those imported ones in the name of "local" production. When such advantages are still at the cornea of our business people, that's when our people prefer eating those pesticide infested vegetables that are comparatively cheaper.

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    Replies
    1. That's true. Sometimes greed overtakes and we are least bothered of common good. That's why authorities need to control the prices of commodities going over the rooftop. Of course, that will be easier said than done. Ultimately, Bhutanese need to grow more and that will take care of prices - as supply increases!

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  2. Nice one Ngawang! indeed our growing opportunity... we should not let it die there. We have potential to grow everything that comes from India, in fact our lands are more fertile and organic but we lack in creating market place for those who see this business as an opportunity.

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  3. Your country had got good climate and cool highlands to grow the best greens. Hopefully the country could reduce the imports and eat local produce.

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  4. This happened at a time when we had vegetables locally available. I am just wondering what would have happened to us, if that was reported in a dry winter season. Yes, I think we need to work towards self sufficiency but with a wise decision.

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  5. If we also put our locally produced vegetables through laboratory tests, I am quite sure that they'll not be 100% pesticides free. However, comparatively local produces may be more safer for consumption.

    But then, how long we can go on consuming safer local produces which usually come at higher prices when even buying those low-priced pesticides infected vegetables takes more than 10% of our monthly earnings?

    Instead I think some agencies need to do extensive advocating activities on unhealthiness of consuming those vegetables just like how Indian government recently did to reduce import of rice from China. This may provide some rooms in market for our local sellers. Again how many will be ready to fill that room?

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    Replies
    1. But I was also thinking how can our vegetables that are grown using organic manure test positive pesticides. If they do, it is not organic. We need to stop them from selling their produce in the market. And coming to the price, we need more people to produce more vegetables - otherwise authority imposing price on the farmers' produce is not good. Of course people who sell vegetables at the market do not grow what they sell in the market - that's the paradox here. These people are the middlemen - making money out of others' hard work. But that's how things work everywhere.

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