Indian markets south of Bhutan offer huge potential to Bhutanese vegetable growers for two reasons:
1) Indian markets are huge compared to the Bhutanese markets, and 2) Vegetable prices in India are high during summer due to the monsoon heat and rain.
Under the IFAD-funded Market Access & Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP), SNV provides support to the government of Bhutan to develop a vegetable sector in the six eastern Dzongkhags of Bhutan(see map below) which can cater to the lean (off-) season in India. The Regional Agricultural Marketing & Cooperative Office (RAMCO) in Mongar and the MAGIP Project Coordination Unit are the main implementing partners, but also the RNR Research & Development Center Wengkhar, Dzongkhag Agricultural Offices and Geog Extension Offices play an equally significant role in the programme.
Graph 1: Price fluctuations at Guwahati wholesale markets: Off-season effects on prices are even more pronounced for other vegetables compared to Bhutan’s successful export of potatoes (Market Study of Selected Vegetables in Assam and Samdrup Jongkhar Wholesale Markets, 2011).
SNV promotes a value chain approach to the development of the vegetable sector in Eastern Bhutan. Avalue chainis a sequence of processes and functions that take a product or service (here in this programme vegetables), from its inception through input supply, production, value addition, transport, marketing, and finally to end buyers or consumers. It is composed of value chain actors, like the farmers, Bhutanese traders and Indian traders who have commercial relationships with each other. The key is to promote improved cooperation and relationships among these actors that will result in sustainable, inclusive economic growth that reduces poverty andcontinueson its own once the project intervention is over.
Off-season vegetables: to increase incomes of at least 1200 households in 6 eastern Dzongkhags by 5-15 percent by mid-2014. Around 40 groups & cooperatives will be strengthened and linked to markets.