(Left) Vegetable Vendors at Multi Level Car Park II. (Right) Vegetable Vendors at Centenary Farmers Market

Vegetable Vendors complain of lack of customers at MLCP II

Meanwhile Centenary Farmers Market is back in business at one third capacity

On Monday, some vegetable vendors moved to Multi Level Car Park II to run their business; however, the vendors are not happy since there are no customers visiting the area to buy their produce.

 A fruit vendor, Thinley Dorji, said that it has been five days since he moved in MLCP to sell his fruits and there is no sale.

“It is difficult to make Nu 400 a day. We have been sitting here for five days and there is no customer. I don’t know whether people are aware of us selling here or they don’t want to visit the area. While, I was selling my fruits in CFM I would at least get around Nu 4,000 a day. The fruits are rotting and there is no option rather then to dump them,” he said.

He said, “There is no proper place to even dump our waste since there is no bin. There is no sign board and people were saying that they were not able find area and they were going to the top floor and going away.”

Tashi Om, said that she couldn’t sell her produce and she is leaving for Punakha to sell it there.

“It is hard to even make Nu 100 a day. There are no customers and our vegetables are rotting. I am going back to my village to sell. I have a counter in CFM but it’s empty and I am here without any business,” she said.

She said that the money they are getting from selling vegetables in the car park is not even enough to buy lunch.

“We are not able to sell and on top of that when we bring the products in the vehicle we have to pay parking fees,” she said, adding that she is also leaving the MLCP and going back to her village.

A Doma Pani vendor Nima Gyalmo said that she couldn’t sell a single doma and pani since she moved here.

“Forget about selling my products instead I had to pay Nu 15,000 on Monday to buy doma and pani. We are having a difficult time as we have little savings and its going to finish if we are not able to sell” she said, adding that the area is meant for car parking and not for doing business.

Another vegetable vendor Kinzang Choden said that her trays are full of vegetables but there are no customers visiting to buy vegetables. She also said her vegetables are rotting.

She said that they have complained that there are no customers visiting the places and Thromde has turned a deaf ear.

“The area is quite tight; it is poorly ventilated. There is no one to listen to our pleas and we do not have an option since we don’t have a place to sell,” she said. 

There are 470 active vendors in the CFM and the government and Thromde are moving 270 of them to MLCP 1 and MLCP 2 with COVID as the main reason but vendors pointed out that the ventilation and spacing was much better at CFM.  

Meanwhile, Thrompon Kinlay Dorji said that the area is ready for vendors to operate their businesses.

“The vendors are not ready to move in and they said that they will operate their businesses on weekends,” he said.

In the meantime, Centenary Framers’ Market has come back to life again after its reopening even at the one third capacity.

Kuenzang Deki, 35 said that all the vendors are happy to sell their produces in CFM again.

“Though its one third we are pleased since the CFM is open again. At least we are back to business and can sell our vegetables as before,” she said.

She said that the vendors are glad that they don’t have to sell their produces in Zones and MLCPs where there is no business.

Dema said, “CFM has saved the living of many vendors. Most of us depend upon selling vegetables in CFM and it is the only source of income for single women like me.”

Another vendor Zam said “We hope that CFM remains open from here on since it was built for poor farmers to sell their produces and encourages them to work hard. We don’t want to receive another notification on the closure of CFM again. It is sole source of income for most of us,’ she said.

She also said that the vendors have been following the protocols since the pandemic started and with the current situation the vendors are taking extra measures.

“If you go around you will find hand sanitizers in all the stalls and even the vegetables are kept properly in the trays with proper space maintained, we are being extra cautious,” she said.

Vendors said the closure of the CFM and now its one third capacity is really hurting farmers and suppliers from various Dzongkhags who earlier used to bring their produce to CFM and sell it in one go to the vendors. The vendors say farmers are now roaming around in hired vehicles looking for the vendors and are losing money in vehicle charges.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering announced that the existing CFM will always remain a farmer’s market on October 10, 2020.

However, the vendors are confused as the Agriculture Minister subsequently said in an interview that the fate of the CFM will depend upon the Thromde once the stalls in the zones and MLCP are ready.

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