Following a deluge of complaints from consumers on the skyrocketing prices of onion and tomato in the market, the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), Ministry of Economic Affairs, shared on Wednesday the maximum allowable retail price of onion and tomato fixed by the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC).
The retail price, according to the DAMC, will be valid until further notice and that the changes in price would apply to only the western region.
As per the latest maximum allowable retail price of onion and tomato based on the landed cost of the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) that was shared by the DAMC for the consignments received on October 27, retailer’s prices per kilogram of onion have been fixed between Nu 107 to Nu 112 in the western region.
Accordingly, retailer’s price for a kilogram of onion has been fixed at Nu 107 for Phuentsholing, Nu 109 for Samtse and Gedu, Nu 110 for Damchu, Nu 111 for Thimphu and Paro, and Nu 112 for Haa.
Similarly, for the consignments received on October 27, retailer’s prices per kilogram of tomato have been fixed between Nu 75 to Nu 79 in the western region. Retailer’s price for a kilogram of tomato has been fixed at Nu 75 for Phuentsholing, Nu 77 for Samtse and Damchu, Nu 76 for Gedu, Nu 78 for Thimphu and Paro, and Nu 79 for Haa.
Meanwhile, the markets in the country ran out of onions after India stopped the export of onions since September 14, 2020.
However, the Government of India in October approved the export of 150 metric tons of onions per month to Bhutan till the end of this year with the FCBL auction yard in Gelephu receiving the first 40 metric tons of onions on October 19.
While the OCP shared the maximum allowable retail price of onion and tomato, consumers, however, say that they are charged almost double the prices fixed by the DAMC.
According to a customer, Yangchen Norbu, the price of onion at the Paro vegetable market is Nu 200 per kilogram and that it’s high time to monitor the price hike since vendors are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation; affecting the low income people.
Similarly, another customer, Sangay Norbu says that the field officers of the consumer’s protection office have to be in disguise and are required to investigate and monitor the prices charged by shopkeepers and retailers.
Another buyer says that vegetable vendors are charging Nu 150 for a kilogram of onion at the Centenary Farmers’ Market and that no one is monitoring the hiked price.
“This notice with the price fixed felt useless when we anyhow have to buy on the vendor’s rate. There is no one to monitor and so far no vendor is punished for charging higher than the fixed price on these products,” says another buyer, Rinchen Dorji. Meanwhile, many buyers in Thimphu say that they are presently charged Nu 200 for a kilogram of onion and Nu 120 for a kilogram of tomato.
Namkhai Norbu from Thimphu