The vegetable market of Phuentsholing has been redesigned and looks much more attractive than before. Another development is that the new integrated vegetable market (IVM) can now offer fresh vegetables to buyers and market to sellers.
Another IVM is being opened at Karbraytar to provide better choice and access to the public. Phuentsholing trade regional director, Sonam Dhendup said that the ambience of vegetable market is being developed and made convenient for the customers with designated stalls.
He said that the vegetable and fruit vendors are taught to place their items presentably and maintain cleanliness. Later, vegetable, fruits and egg shops will be segregated. The trade office is also planning to segregate local vegetable stall and start a cottage and small industry (CSI) market in future.
The regional trade director pointed out that there is price distortion in the market and most of the people prefer to buy vegetables from Jaigaon. He said one reason could be lack of good ambience in Bhutan.
It is observed that the prices for the vegetables and fruits in Bhutan is higher by 40% than the bordering town. The trade officials have asked the wholesalers to distribute at lower prices to vendors. The retailers are also asked to reduce the price though the trade office has no authority to fix the price as it depends on market forces. “Public want trade office to fix the price,” the regional director said.
Meanwhile, one of the vegetable vendors, Choki said that with the coming up of IVM, vegetable counters are developed and it looks clean. “Hope it will attract customers,” she said.
However, Choki said that as most of the people prefer to buy from the Indian border market, there are very less customers. “Most of the time, vegetables and fruits get damaged,” she said.
She shared that most of the customers complain of high price. “But we sell at reasonable prices with only a marginal profit.”
Another vendor, Khina Maya said that with development of IVM, counters are maintained neatly and products are arranged well. However, Khina Maya too shared similar problems. She said that after the opening of Bhutan-India gate, most of the public go to Jaigaon, complaining of high price.
Khina Maya said that price in Bhutanese vegetable market is not very high comparatively. She said that little price is added as the vendors should pay tax. “We cannot run the business on loss as we have to pay rent, loan and spend for children’s education,” she said. “Yet we even sell incurring loses. But the public do not understand the cause of little higher price,” she added.
Mina Kumari Ghaley, a wholesaler and distributor said that she distributes vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices to the retailers. However, she said that the retailers are not able to make profit as there are very less customers. She also pointed out that banned items should not be permitted for import.
The vendors said that they can never compete with Indian market but that the public should understand and support Bhutanese vendors.
Most of the residents of Phuentsholing go to Jaigaon to buy necessary items, even fruits and vegetables. Public say price for the vegetables and fruits in Bhutanese markets are high.
Ugyen Choden said that price for vegetables and fruits are cheaper in Jaigaon and the public prefer to buy at lower price.
Meanwhile, some of the residents prefer to buy from Bhutan. As it is convenient, Tshering Yangden said, she buys vegetables from Bhutan only.
Similarly, Pema said that for his small family, there is no point of crossing the border just to buy few kilograms of vegetables. “It can save time and money,” he said.
Phuntsho and Tshering Denkar also buy from the Phuentsholing vegetable market.
Tshering Denkar said she does not get time to go to Jaigaon as she has to wait in queue and also pay Nu 20 at the terminal gate. “It is better to buy vegetables from Bhutan,” she said.
Meanwhile, the IVM has been developed by the regional trade office in collaboration with Phuentsholing Thromde and the committee of vendors.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu