Aside from the inflation that caused a hike in prices of various goods and commodities (both food and non-food) another phenomenon that caused the prices to escalate are seasonal changes.
Three months ago a kilogram of butter cost Nu.480 to 500, now its price is Nu.550 at the Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu. Similarly, the price of chilies has increased from Nu.50-60 to Nu.80-100 per kg currently and for beans from Nu.50-60 to 80-100 per kg.
According to Wangmo, a vegetable vendor at the CFM, the recent price changes is due to the lean season where farmers are not able to produce enough vegetables to meet the demand of the consumers. The locally produced farm products are procured from Paro, Dawakha, Jigmenang and Tsirang. The prices have increased by a small margin and compared to the peak of the Pandemic, it has significantly decreased.
Kinley, a bakery owner usually secures her eggs from Paro but today she is at the CFM as she couldn’t get her usual supply of goods due to a shortage in Paro. “I have noticed that the prices of locally produced goods are increasing to an unbearable degree day-by-day and that’s why the imported veggies and dairy products are almost always preferred over locally grown ones. I would be thankful if the Government controls the escalation of prices. I feel like the Government has failed to monitor and control the hike in price of goods and their efforts hasn’t produced any noticeable results.”
Many consumers feel that the prices of vegetables are unaffordable and it would be more preferable to buy imported vegetables even if the quality isn’t as good as the locally produced ones
The Chief marketing officer of Department of Agricultural marketing and Cooperatives Dawa Tshering reasoned that these changes are merely caused by seasonal changes as well as demand and supply of the actual goods in the market.
During peak season, price usually comes down and during lean season the prices shoot up depending on the production and availability of the goods. He also said that the pandemic has boosted the agricultural production and farmers have benefitted as a result since the nation had to depend on the locally produced agricultural goods.
The Government has put in some funds to support agricultural production and come up with economic contingency plan to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher demand for agricultural products means less dependency on imported domestic products. The price of vegetables is also subject to change depending on the quality as fresher products will cost more, while on Sundays it will cost less since the quality will have deteriorated.
Aside from perishable food items, the prices of some other goods including oils and milk as well as non-food items have increased slightly. Loken, a manager at 8 Eleven mart in Thimphu said that previously the transportation of imported goods used to cost Nu. 13,000 per truck but now it costs Nu. 20,000 since separate drivers need to be hired at ports in the border.
Fuel prices increased again during the October month. The price of petrol has increased from Nu.77.20 in the mid of previous month to Nu.81.56 per liter as of now at the Druk Petroleum Corporation LTD. Same with the diesel from Nu.75.06 to Nu.80.10 which will seriously hamper the livelihood of cab drivers. Tshering Drolma, the manager of DPCL said fuel prices changes twice every month and it won’t be a surprise to anyone if the fuel price increased again.
On the other hand, the cost of tobacco products has drastically decreased due to withdrawal of 100 percent tax levied on the tobacco products. Today a packet of wills navy cut cigarettes generally cost Nu.150 in a lot of shops in Thimphu and Nu.120 in other shops. Its MRP is Rs.110. If purchased from the Duty free Limited, a packet will only cost Nu.95 which is music to the ears of tobacco consumers.