Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering, said that Bhutan cannot import chillies as they have high chemical content. He said these chemicals in the form of pesticides affects our nervous system leading to irreversible nerve disorder over a period of time and it can even lead to cancer. He said these chemicals will also damage our kidneys and liver.
Lyonchhen said that the government tried to explore import of chillies but there was only one supplier who met the standards and that supplier was disqualified too after it was found that he would have to procure the chillies from the same sources where these pesticides are used.
Lyonchhen added that it is not that the country cannot import chilli but due to the high risk factor the government cannot lift the import ban.
“Some people are blaming the government for not opting for chilli import and it disheartens us,” Lyonchhen said.
The Cabinet rejected the agriculture ministry’s proposal to lift the ban on import of chillies to address shortage in the country.
According to the MoAF, chilli production is expected to pick up substantially during March.
Following the positive test result confirmed through laboratory testing for one variety of imported chilli in May 2016, all varieties of imported chillies that were available in the market were screened for pesticide residues. Since then Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority banned imported chillies from 2016.
BAFRA has been kept busy seizing many consignments of chilli smuggled across the border. BAFRA has also imposed heavy fines for such attempts given the health risks.
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