Farmers of Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Gasa can now sell their agricultural and livestock products according to demands. They now have a cold storage facility where they can store perishable goods. Usually, farmers have to either sell agricultural and livestock products at a lesser price or even throw them away when there is no market.
The Cold Storage Facility constructed by the Food Corporation of Bhutan was inaugurated on Monday in Wangdue Phodrang.
The facility located above the hospital at Rinchengang can store up to 300 tons of agricultural and livestock products.
Equipped with a temperature monitoring system and cooling fans inside every chamber, it will ensure that the products remain unharmed for a long duration by maintaining the required temperature.
“At the moment, we have 12 chambers, two for meats, two for dairy products and the rest for vegetable products. We also have an anti-chamber which is used for pre-cooling. And we also have storage space where we can wash and pack vegetables,” said Naiten Wangchuk, the CEO of FCBL.
The Cold Storage Facility was established as per the government’s directive to store and supply quality vegetables, dairy products and meat items to government-supported schools. It is expected to benefit about 10,000 students from 54 schools in the three districts. Similarly, the facility would also benefit the farmers’ groups and other individuals.
However, FCB officials said they will charge a non-commercial rate of Nu 27 per square foot every month for registered Famers’ Groups and Cooperatives. And the commercial rate of Nu 42 per square foot would apply to private individuals.
“For instance, right now, it is chilli harvesting season in Wangdue Phodrang. So, it is difficult for the farmers to fetch a good price when all of them produce it at a time. Therefore, I think they can fetch a good price if they store the chilli for at least a month in the facility and sell it during the off-season,” said Doman, the Wangdue Phodrang’s District Agriculture Officer.
“When there is enough production of meat items in the market, our people face problems in maintaining the quality as there are no sufficient cold storages in meat shops. So, with the establishment of this cold storage facility, I feel our people can now store it inside the facility and sell it whenever there is demand for meat,” added Ugyen, the District Livestock Officer.
The construction of the Cold Storage Facility got delayed by a year due to the pandemic.
The FCB will be operating the Cold Storage Facility by deploying five staff and a manager. The government spent Nu 56 M on the project.