Vendors want CFM to function at half the capacity

Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) currently operates at one-third of its capacity with 170 vendors at a given time. However, the number of selling days for the vendors is limited and they are worried about their unsold vegetables. 

The CFM Tshogpa, Dendup said that vendors are worried about their business as they do not complete selling their vegetables and other products within the given time of six days.

Nevertheless, he said they have made a proposal to the Minister of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) for a change from one third operations to half of its capacity. He said if the ministry accepts their proposal, it would allow the vendors to sell their products on time. “They could sell all the left over vegetables if the days to sell their products are extended,” he said. Most customers visit the market only during the weekends which leaves the vendors with minimum number of actual working days.

However, the vendors were informed that they should follow the one third rule as of now and if customers and vendors maintain social distancing and follow the protocols, then the proposal of operating half the capacity within one given time would be accepted in the future.

Currently, there are three cards for three alternative weeks but if they are half of the vendors are allowed to operate at one time, then the third color blue would be omitted and a total of 254 vendors will get an opportunity to sell their products with an additional one week.

Dendup said that they have also put up the proposal to the Director General of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority but they were informed to operate with 170 vendors as of now.

Vendors coming from other dzongkhags have been complaining that they have lost their market and they are facing difficulties selling their vegetables as the vendors of CFM are not accepting their products.

However, with the reopening of CFM, they are starting to receive more customers and vendors by the day. “But we still do not know how the market will move.”

Until now, the vendors put up the proposal first to the Prime Minister and then to the agriculture minister who had then written a proposal to the Thimphu Thrompon and the Thimphu Thrompon to the Director General of BAFRA. “But we have not received any recommendation letter from the Thromde,” he said.

A vendor, Sonam Tshomo said she is not receiving many customers like before and even when customers come they go in search of the best prices. She said she has not finished selling even half of her products and she is in a dilemma where to take her remaining products. “If I give my dairy products to my friends and ask them to sell, they won’t accept as they also have their share to sell,” she said.

However, she said they were informed that like additional vegetable vendor space in MLCP, spaces for those selling dairy products will open soon.

Passang Gyem, 40, said that she gets very few customers and she sells less varieties of vegetables.  She said she gets around Nu 10,000 in three days but before the pandemic, she used to earn more than Nu 30,000 in three days. “I am expecting more customers on weekends,” she said adding if she gets to operate from CFM every day, her business would be satisfying.

However, after their turn completes she said she will move to MLCP as they have no other option.

Dawa, 26, said she has not recovered the amount she has spent to buy her products and she is in great fear of when she will complete selling her products. “I wish the government would allow operating the market 50:50,” she said adding it will help her sell all her products.

“I won’t go to MLCP to continue my business after my turn completes at the CFM as my friends who have been selling at MLCP have not got customers even after three days which is a complete loss. I wish to stay in CFM only.”

Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu