After a yearlong closure, the Centenary Famers Market (CFM) has reopened its doors, ushering in a new era for Bhutan’s farming community. The vendors from the Kaja Throm area have relocated to the upper section of the newly renovated market.
The CFM’s renovation was carried out under the command of His Majesty The King, with the first phase (north side) completed in December 2022, and the second phase (central and south side) finished on August 31. The total budget allocated for the upper floor renovation was Nu 69 million.
Local vendors, brimming with joy and anticipation, express their excitement and ecstasy.
“I am absolutely thrilled about this new beginning at CFM. The market’s transformation is nothing short of incredible. It’s like stepping into the future while holding onto our cherished traditions; it is a gift from an extraordinary King, one who has granted us this kidu,” one vendor said.
Another farmer shared that the new stall is not just a place to sell their products; “It’s a symbol of the country’s commitment to supporting local businesses and preserving traditions, a symbol showing the sacred sovereign-subject bond and love of a King.”
Nimchu Pem, a vendor selling fresh fruits, describes the new CFM stall as a blend of modernity and tradition, reflecting Bhutan’s commitment to progress with a deep respect for its roots. “I am thrilled to set up shop here and be part of this incredible journey and benefactor of our compassionate King.”
Meanwhile, vendors will now have to pay Nu 4,500 per month, an increase of Nu 1,000 from their previous rent in the Kaja Throm area. However, vendors have generally found the new rental rate reasonable, given the wider and more comfortable spaces offered.
Despite some shared challenges related to weather conditions and space, vendors remain enthusiastic about the move, citing increased comfort in their new surroundings. The CFM now boasts a diverse range of fresh, locally-sourced produce, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, incense products, and dairy items, showcasing the rich tapestry of Bhutanese flavors and traditions. The reopening of CFM has not only revitalized the market but has also had a profound impact on the lives farmers.
The newly reconstructed upper section of CFM opened to the public on September 18, with Prime Minister Lotay Tshering gracing the opening ceremony. This section features intricate stall designs, seating benches near food stalls, a balcony, a stage for recreational activities, and an exhibition hall for showcasing artwork, making it a unique and inviting space.
Additionally, the rooftop now boasts of a 250-kilowatt solar plant, installed on June 4, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen. The plant is anticipated to produce more than 360,000 units of power yearly, all of which will be sent directly into the grid of the Bhutan Power Corporation.
Looking ahead, the ground floor vendors will shift to Kaja Throm for the next phase of renovations, which is expected to begin on October 2.
Meanwhile, the renovated CFM section now houses 192 stalls, all offering local products, with some sections featuring food stalls run by De-suung operating until 10pm.
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu