Online auction for potatoes goes live

Farmers, who come to Phuentsholing to auction their potatoes, will no longer have to depend on a middleman to sell their products. This is because the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) and the Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan (RSEB) together launched the online auction system under the commodity market initiative yesterday.

With the new system in place, farmers need not deal with middlemen in trading their products, grade their farm produces systematically in grading machine, save time, and earn more.

The online auctioning system is also expected to help farmers fetch better prices for their products, as it will do away with price manipulation.

Traders from across the border can register with FCBL to bid their prices online from anywhere.

The system is launched in line with the government’s plan to build a comprehensive marketing system to ensure commercial viability of agricultural products and facilitate core institutional linkages towards the market-oriented sector.

RSEB and FCBL have been working on the system since September 2016 and online trading was also carried.

During the launch, RSEB chief executive officer Dorji Phuntsho said that the system would build efficient marketing channel for the agricultural goods. “It will provide transparency in price and dissemination process, improve the quality of our agricultural produce through standardization and grading mechanisation.”

RSEB and FCBL are also planning to connect similar set up in Samdrupjongkhar and two warehouses located at Phobjikha and Bumthang by next harvest. Work is also underway to list cardamom as the next product to trade online. “We have successfully carried out the ground work through the installation of the improved cardamom dryer and we expect to commence the online trading by this harvest.”

This initiative, Dorji Phuntsho said was chosen as one of the projects under e-infrastructure for trade and services development under Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). A grant of USD 300,000 will be provided.

FCBL’s chief executive officer, Karma Nidup, said that facilitation of marketing of agricultural and horticultural produce has remained one of the main goals ever since FCBL was incepted in 1974. “RSEB and FCBL initiated this online commodity market to improve efficiency and effectiveness, unlike the past where everything had to be done manually.”

He said that the online auctioning also comes with the change of time and advancement of information and communication technology.

Karma Nidup said that about Nu 6 million was spent to start the online system.

Royal Monetary Authority’s (RMA) governor, Dasho Penjore, who attended the launch, said agriculture is important, as more than 60 percent of the population still relies on agriculture for their livelihood. “But we still have some constraints in the agriculture sector.”

He said that the online system would effectively link farmers and growers with the modern output and financial market.

The governor said that RMA is in the process of opening several lending schemes in the agriculture sector in areas such as cooperatives and commercial farming. “The most notable policy in the making is the priority sector lending policy, wherein all financial institutions are welcome to lend in the agriculture sector.”

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