Government to restrict import of commonly grown fruits and vegetables

Government request vendors not to hike prices

The government through a notification signed by the Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Penjor, on 2nd June is restricting the import of commonly grown fruits and vegetables in the country to ensure that the local produce does not go to waste.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the agriculture ministry has requested the vendors not to take advantage of the situation and hike the price of the fruits and vegetables.

Lyonpo said the matter was discussed with the vegetable wholesale importers in the Centenary Farmers’ Market in Thimphu, and they have agreed to abide by the measure.

“The vendors at Centenary Farmers’ Market have agreed to not to hike the price and we have also made a request to them. OCP will monitor the price of the fruits and vegetables and BAFRA will exercise temporary restriction on import of commonly grown fruits and vegetables,” the Agriculture Minister said.

Lyonpo said that the restriction is imposed because it is feared that large quantities of fruits and vegetables might go to waste during this season due to possible difficulties in exporting vegetables from Bhutan in the wake of COVID-19.

“To prevent occurrence of such unpleasant situation and to facilitate consumption of locally produced fruits and vegetables within the country, the government has imposed restriction on the import of commonly grown fruits and vegetables except for onion, tomato, bitter gourd, okra, apple, banana, pineapple, mango, orange and pomegranate,” said the Agriculture Minister, adding that the import of the above mentioned fruits and vegetables may be allowed only after assessing the quantities required in the country.

There is already growing anxiety among potato farmers in the country on who they can export their crops to India given the lockdown situation in India and a sealed border due to COVID-19.

In addition to this the government had encouraged farmers and people to grow more vegetables in 20 Dzongkhags with even assurances of buy back schemes though it is not clear how much budget is available for that.

Furthermore, a lot of people from the tourism industry had also taken up agriculture.

While many people welcomed the initiative on social media there were also quite a few apprehensive about the impact on food prices and what this would mean for the poor or economically disadvantaged.

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