Bhutan, February 2023 - Farmers in Bhutan grow a significant quantity of almost all types of fruits and vegetables. Unquestionably, the overall quality of these fruits and vegetables gets deteriorated by the time it reaches the market or a processing industry because of poor handling practices, limited post-harvest management or infrastructure, and market access barrier.Unquestionably, the overall quality of these fruits and vegetables gets deteriorated by the time it reaches the market or a processing industry because of poor handling practices, limited post-harvest management or infrastructure, and market access barrier.
The post-harvest losses are much larger for nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy, due to their perishable nature and lack of appropriate cold chains and storage. The post-harvest handling losses for fruits such as mandarin and apple in Bhutan were found to be about 55 and 67 percent respectively, according to agriculture reports.
Post-harvest practices and post-harvest infrastructure at strategic locations are critical.
That is why the SAARC Development Fund has partnered with the post-harvest center to support the 300-Metric Ton cold storage facility at the Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd. (FCBL) in Phuentsholing to benefit farmers and their families in all the nearby districts.
This was part of the Nu 30 million grant to Bhutan’s Agriculture Ministry for the project – “Post Harvest Management and value addition of fruits in production catchments in SAARC Countries”. The project, also implemented in the other Member States, was aimed at reducing postharvest losses of the fresh produce by at least 25 percent, to improve and maintain the quality of the fruits, preserve nutrient content and ensure better prices for the farmers.
Besides the post-harvest and storage infrastructure, the project has also supported the introduction of basic postharvest practices and technology, and how to utilize such cold storage facilities.
FCBL officials told SDF Team during a recent field mission that with these services, farmers are able to attain higher revenues from their harvest.
Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting all sale and exports, officials said that the cold storage proved very useful with farmers and suppliers using the cold stores to store and supply their fruits and vegetables, and minimizing damages to their yield which could have resulted to a huge loss.