Vegetable vendors at the vegetable complex in Mongar had no tomato and onion available on their stalls three weeks ago.
When they were available (about a month back), tomato and onion was sold at Nu 90 and Nu 80 per kilo each. However, from last week (starting October 31), the price of tomato and onion in Mongar has reached Nu 120 to 100 per kg.
A vegetable vendor, Nima said that she got tomatoes and onions at a higher price from her wholesaler.
She said that she had to increase the price to make up for the operational costs as she has to pay Nu 1,000 for the space at the vegetable complex and Nu 200 to 250 for electricity bill.
Nima reasoned that there were no tomatoes and onions available for sale earlier because of the roadblocks for three weeks at a few points along the highway.
“We faced difficulties as the month was nearing to an end and there were no tomatoes and onions, while customers mostly purchased these two over other vegetables,” she added.
“I could hardly earn between Nu 200 to Nu 300 per day during those three weeks,” she said, adding that she used to earn Nu 15,000 to Nu 20,000 per month before the Covid-19 pandemic and that she rarely gets Nu 5,000 to Nu 6,000 per month now.
She said that she even used to supply onion and tomatoes to nearby schools before the pandemic at Nu 35 per kilo.
“The situation is never going to come back,” she added.
Another vegetable vendor said the price hike of tomato and onion has impacted her business.
“Recently, due to the price hike, I have lost my customers. I cannot more than three to four kilos of onion and tomato per day as the number of customers has reduced,” the vendor said, adding that she has reduced the price of tomato and onion to Nu 100 per kilo if a customer purchases them in huge quantities,” the vendor said, adding that the number of customers has already reduced drastically after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The vendor said she could easily earn Nu 20,000 to Nu 30,000 per month before the pandemic, but now the profit has drastically decreased to Nu 7,000 to Nu 10,000 per month.
A wholesaler, meanwhile, said that he sells onion and tomato at Nu 65 and Nu 75 per kilo with the recent hike in the prices from the sources.
He said he used to sell onions and tomatoes at Nu 40 to Nu 50 per kilo a month ago.
An official from the Regional Agricultural Marketing and Cooperative at Mongar said the exorbitant rate was due to the wastage and losses incurred by the wholesalers before reaching the destination. The official said tomatoes and onions are routed mostly through Falakata, India and that when they reach their destinations, the wholesalers and vendors control their prices.
“Due to the scarcity of tomatoes and onions in the market, the price rises,” the official said.
Moreover, due to the recent roadblock at Namling (on the Mongar to Bumthang highway), transportation was brought to a halt for three weeks and wholesalers hiked the price to recover the incurred losses.
Additionally, with the recent price hike in fuel, the wholesalers said transportation charge has gone up and that the price of goods goes up as well.
Tenzin Lhamo from Mongar