The farmers of Bartsham Gewog in Trashigang started growing quinoa over the years because of its good price. But marketing the product has become a challenge for them. In the past, the Food Corporation of Bhutan has been purchasing it but this year, the harvest is still lying in the village, unsold.
The farmers of Bartsham Gewog harvested quinoa about five months ago. And even today, sacks of quinoa remain piled up in their homes.
More than 100 farmers grow quinoa in the Gewog.
In the last two years, they produced more than 20 metric tons of quinoa a year. Most of them sold their yield to the Food Corporation of Bhutan at Nu 90 to 100 per kilogram. In a year, farmers earned about Nu 10,000 to 50,000.
They said quinoa fetch better price compared to other crops but the lack of a proper market is a challenge.
“I had to sow the seeds twice this year as the first round didn’t germinate. Later it was better. I had a tough time with the weeding. I have worked hard as I thought the government agencies would collect it, but this year I am not sure whether they will buy it or not,” said Gyeltshen, a farmer.
“We can earn more by selling quinoa compared to maize. And the work is much easier compared to growing potato. Without a proper market, we are not interested and I cultivated maize this year,” said Kinzang Pelmo, another farmer.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Food Corporation of Bhutan, Dorji Tashi, there are limited marketing opportunities for quinoa.
The CEO added that in the last four years, the corporation bought 70 metric tons of quinoa from eastern districts. But, he said they were able to sell only nine metric tons in the domestic market and export 40 metric tons.
However, the CEO said they are exploring market opportunities.
The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives’ Director Kinlay Tshering said they are working closely with FCB and the private sector to find a market.
The director added that a private firm called Farm2Market, based in Samtse will soon buy six metric tons of quinoa from Bartsham. The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperative will also support one-time transportation from Bartsham to Samtse.
Quinoa was brought into the country in 2015 from the South American country of Peru.
Sonam Dargay, Trashigang
Edited by Tshering Zam
The post Farmers of Bartsham Gewog in Trashigang face quinoa marketing issues appeared first on BBSCL.