Bhutanese kitchens are getting harder by the day to run.
From imported rice to imported vegetables to imported meat, the buying of groceries till it is laid out on the table ready to consume is one mad cycle.
Especially with the country facing an economic crisis which could have been prevented had the authorities been wiser and the people thriftier.
The rupee saga has come a long way since the start of last month when the Royal Monetary Authority stopped replenishing the banks’ rupee reserves.
On 12 April, the Prime Minister in a televised address to the nation asked the citizens to cut down on their spending. What is more, he said that from 5 May, import of vegetables from India would be stopped.
This is a wake-up call to all shoppers and sellers.
A study conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Marketing Co-operatives (DAMC) last year revealed that a select group of wholesalers were taking home profits as high as 216% on the import of vegetables from Falakatta, India.
While it is true that farmers in Bhutan hardly produce vegetables beyond what they themselves consume, it is also a fact that they have reasons for doing so.
They are hardly guaranteed a market when cheap vegetables come all the way from India and steal away their customers.
It is also a fact that in the absence of price regulation, there is no check and balance on market prices, and when the price of vegetables become exorbitantly high, customers naturally opt for the cheaper Indian goods.
Bhutan spends Nu 286 mn on vegetable imports annually.
Could not this money have been used in better ways?
Like improving the livelihood and agricultural practices of the farmers in remote Bhutan?
Agreed, the government has done a lot.
But a lot more could have been done if the money which went into importing vegetables had been pumped into facilitating measures to boost local production.
Now, the Prime Minister has finally made a call but it comes at a time when Bhutanese customers no longer fancy organic, home-grown products but have the prices, availability and variety in mind.
Import of vegetables has also fuelled the rupee crisis.
And it is high time that cost cutting is done in this area.
But questions that arise are will our farmers be able to produce the required amount of vegetables at such short notice?
Producing vegetables that can meet the needs of a growing population within a short span of time is nothing short of a miracle.
Meanwhile, the authorities may have to really rack their brains to come up with an interim measure.
Vegetables cannot be hoarded unlike other goods and we just have less than a fortnight before the import of vegetables will be stopped.
Whatever said and done, a stitch in time saves nine.
This move may initially give birth to some teething problems but this must be done anyhow so we will have to gear up for some odds.
But let us hope that we have also learnt our lessons.
The blame-game is on but right now, what we need is not accusations from each side but a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation to tide over this crisis.