After Bhutan saw chemical free chilies being airlifted from the India to solve the rising demand and the high domestic prices, The Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) has now started importing more chillies from Kolkata which are fit for consumption. The chillies are being transported in trucks from Kolkata, India and then distributed according to the demand.
Chillies were distributed at Nu. 40 per kg to the retailers by Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited and were strictly asked not sell above Nu.50 per kg. However the vendors in the capital as well as outside Thimphu charge three times the fixed rate for a kilogram of chilli.
After receiving numerous complaints from the public regarding the high prices of chillies, Youth Business Co-operatives (YBC) intervened. YBC helps in vegetable marketing to ease and bring down the prices of the vegetables which are not available in the country. YBC is registered under the Cooperative Act of Bhutan.
Youth Business Co-operatives has started selling chilies at the issued rates of Nu.50 per kg , giving the other vendors in the market a tough competition as many customers are seen going to BCOOP outlet near the centenary Farmers Market. The consumers are seen in long queues near the BCOOP outlet even during weekdays.
“There is nothing much that can be done if the vendors are selling the chilies at higher prices. If we spot them doing so, we question them but other than that it depends on the customers to buy from vendors or Youth Business Co-operatives,” said officials from FCBL.
“I didn’t know about the Youth Business Cooperatives selling chilies at the issued rates. I’ve been buying chili from the vendors at Nu.70 a kilo till now,” said Sonam Dorji.
While consumers in Thimphu have the choice of buying at Nu.50 per kg through the initiatives of Youth Business Co-operatives, people in other Dzongkhags are left with no choice other than to pay three times or more than the fixed rates.
“Even after the authorities have fixed Nu.50 per kg as the rates for chilli, the vendors charge Nu.70 a kilo. We have no choice than to buy at higher prices,” said Tshering Phuntsho from Wangdue. Similar stories have been making rounds on the social media from people residing in different Dzongkhags regarding the quality and price of chilli.
BAFRA, Food Safety Officer, Kubir said vigilant inspections are still on going to detect any harmful chemical content in the chilli. He said many kilograms of chillies have been seized by BAFRA officials from the vendors who were found illegally importing the chemical infected chilies from the border areas of Phuntsholing, Samdrupjongkhar, Thimphu and Gelephu.