Opposition slams govt. for inefficient handling of farmers’ agricultural produce

Hike in vegetable prices leaves residents exasperated in P/ling

Many Phuentsholing residents, especially in the low income group, are complaining about the recent hike in prices of vegetables in the market.

They say that they cannot afford to buy whatever they want like in the past.

As Business Bhutan talked to some of the vegetable vendors in Phuentsholing, they say that the price rise is from the source and because of having to switch drivers at Sorchen.

A kilogram of tomato costs Nu 80 today, while it used to be around Nu 60.

And with a kilogram of small chili costing Nu 320, a few customers just buy 250 grams for Nu 80, which they say also helps them to save a little amount to purchase other vegetables.

A resident of Phuentsholing, Kinley Dema said everything in the town has become expensive and that even buying vegetables has become a problem.

She said, “In order to have different types of vegetables in the basket, I buy less and it helps me to buy other vegetables as well.”

She said a kilogram of potato is now costing Nu 50, while it used to be Nu 30.

‘Before the rise in prices of the vegetables, we used to get varieties of vegetables even with 500. But now the amount has tripled for vegetable shopping. A minimum of Nu 1,500 is needed now for vegetable shopping for once,” she added.

However, a vegetable vendor, Bumo said the price has increased from the source and that she now does not bring vegetables from outside Phuentsholing as they have become expensive.

She said it is only the price for a bag of potatoes which has gone down.

She said that she pays Nu 1,700 for a bag of potatoes, which used to be Nu 1,800 to Nu 2,000, and she sells them at Nu 50 for a kilo.

Another customer, Sangay Tenzin, knowing that the price of the tomato has gone up to Nu 80 for a kilogram, only purchases half a kilogram now to save some money to buy other vegetables.

He said he is oblivious whether the price has been increased from the source itself or vendors were charging high rates.

“I spend more than Nu 1,500 every week to buy fresh vegetables, which does not even last a week. While humans need nutritious food, to have access to them has become a challenge for all the low and middle income people,” he added.

Another vegetable vendor, Nim Gyem said the vegetable complex tends to get full only during the weekends and customers are not buying in kilograms.

Many customers buy vegetables in little quantities today – say a half kilogram or 250 grams.

“I had some conversations with my customers and they say the price has increased,” she said, adding that there is no other option than to sell at the existing prices.

Another customer, Tshering Dorji said that the prices of green vegetables have also increased massively.

He said he bought a bunch of sag (spinach) at Nu 50, which would normally cost Nu 30.

Some customers said that the government needs to come up with new strategies so that the low and middle income people are not affected.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing