Vegetable vendors and businesses say pay revision is not the cause of the increased price of vegetables and eggs

Vegetable vendors and businesses are denying that there is a rise in the price of goods due to the adoption of the Pay Revision Bill of 2023.

Although there is no substantial data available a majority of the people are concerned about the escalation of the price of food items and goods due to the pay hike.

An official from the Competition & Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) said the authority is conducting research to determine the cause of the change in prices of the products, but the research is at a premature stage, and therefore, they cannot conclude what led to the changes in prices of the essential commodities for now.

A vegetable seller, Chador Phuntsho, who has been in business for 10 years in Thimphu said, “The price of vegetables was unaffected by the pay hike because it was determined by the time of year and the supply. As it is, we are selling chillies for Nu 200 to Nu 220 despite the fact that we could have sold them for Nu 40 to Nu 50 if this year’s harvest had been larger.”

According to vegetable wholesalers and traders, chilies from Paro and Wangdue were intended to be available in the market in July; however, due to a lack of rainfall, the production of the fully mature chillies from Paro and Wangdue that were intended to be available in the market was hampered.

The lack of rain also had a significant impact on the production of tomatoes in the nation, followed by an increase in the cost of tomatoes imported from India. As a result, tomatoes are now more expensive in the market.

Although tomatoes are grown in nearly every state in India, albeit in varied amounts there is a massive increase in prices. The Times of India said the abrupt rise in temperature in March and April that prompted pest attacks on crops forced many farmers to give up on their crops and the late arrival of the monsoon led to the delay in tomato crop planting resulting in decreased productivity. Further, the unseasonably heavy rainfall in recent months affected the growth of the crops and fueled a deadly fungus disease.

A 51-year- old farmer in Punakha, Kinley Dem, said, “This time’s harvest is poor due to water scarcity, and when that happens, the chillies do not bear fruit, and the hot temperature makes it a favorable weather condition for pests to thrive, leading to a poor harvest.”

Kinley Dem and her husband claimed that the summer heat this year is the hottest they have experienced.

Kinley Dem said, “We used to harvest hundreds of kilograms of chillies when there was sufficient rainfall in the past, but this time we could only produce forty to fifty kgs. We raised our rates on our chillies when that occurs.”

The price of vegetables has risen, according to the vegetable dealers, not because civil workers’ salaries have increased, but rather because of seasonal availability, followed by prices set by farmers in Bhutan and India.

Additionally, a fruit dealer Sangay said, “The prices of the fruits also depend on the price we are charged by the retailers while importing.”

According to the vegetable vendors, even though onions, chillies, and tomatoes are expensive, Bhutanese tend to purchase them because they are a crucial component of the Bhutanese cuisine.

It was found out that the reason for the lack of eggs in market and high prices was because there aren’t enough adult chickens to lay the eggs across poultries across the south.

Pema Tamang a poultry farmer from Tsirang said, “Most poultry farmers have sold their older hens and replaced them with young chicks and these chicks take about several months to mature and lay eggs.”

This has led to an increase in price of eggs due to scarcity.

“The cost of items is not determined by the pay revision,” said Sonam Tshering, proprietor of the wholesale Gashel Store.

“The price of goods depends on whether they were bought from retailers in India or anywhere else, followed by transportation costs incurred during the import of the goods,” he added.

Since the economy is weak and has already had an impact on many people’s purchasing power, he declared that they would not raise the price of items simply because of the pay revision. Doing so would only worsen their situation.  

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