Vegetable vendors and consumers are yet to see the supply of green chilies flood the market from the sub tropical areas, like Sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana, etc.
Chillies are consumed by the kilograms in Bhutan as all the dishes require a large quantity of the essential chilly ingredient. The Agriculture ministry banned Indian chillies due to a high content of pesticide residue earlier this year.
Chillies were planted on a large scale in the sub tropical areas to meet the domestic demand after the ban was imposed. Agriculture ministry had also given assurance that the price of the green chillies will not only come down, but also that the consumers will get chillies, in abundance, during winter months from the southern dzongkhags.
Meanwhile, the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) in Thimphu has started charging higher prices for green chillies. It costs a minimum of Nu 100 per kilogram, depending on the freshness and quality of chillies. The lowest quality chillies are fetching a minimum of Nu 95 per kg.
A wholesale store at CFM has only a single variety of chilly on sale, which fetches Nu 95 per kg. Many consumers are complaining of having to buy the low quality chilly sold at a higher price due to a shortage of chilies.
Vegetable vendors told this paper that the chillies growing season is over in most dzongkhags, and the lat few green chillies are being sold at the moment.
A vegetable vendor, Chimi Wangmo, 36, at CFM said that there is now a lesser quantity of chillies coming in with bad quality starting from November. She added that green chillies from India were sold during this time.
However, after the ban, she said that the vendors are forced to look for chillies within the country for the winter supply.
Another vegetable vendor, Karma, 47, said that in the past, chilli supply was never the problem, but this time, vendors really need to follow up and keep in constant touch with the limited suppliers in the market. He said that the consumers complain about the price and quality of the chillies now available.
Another vendor at CFM, Kharka Maya, 49, said that the ban on other vegetables is not a problem, but it is a big deal when the ban is for chillies. “Ban on chillies has caused so many problems, being the essential ingredient in our food. The government needs to revisit the ban on chillies,” she said.
Agriculture ministry is exploring the potential areas for winter chilly cultivation so it can replenish the supply during the lean season. Meanwhile, consumers are waiting for the fresh green chillies from the south to reach the market. They hope the chillies will be sold at a lower cost as promised.