Imports: While the chilli shortage problem refuses to go away, officials are still searching for a reliable solution.

An official from the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority and another from the agriculture marketing and cooperatives department are in Kolkata looking for more markets and suppliers of chillies to import.

The two officials along with the trade official at the Bhutan Consulate Office in Kolkata are scanning the City of Joy and the neighbouring areas in search of a permanent solution. They will travel to Jharkhand, a neighbouring state to West Bengal in the next few days looking for more options.

Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCBL) marketing advisor, Bhim Raj Gurung said that Jharkhand chilli samples have tested negative for pesticides and are safe. The supplier has more than 200 acres of organic chillies.

“The supplier in Kolkata is a part time supplier, and has also increased the price, which is why we’re looking for a permanent supplier for a reliable supply,” Bhim Raj Gurung said.

FCBL has sold more than 8.3 metric tonnes of chilli to the Youth Business Cooperative in Thimphu on December 13 to last until this weekend. FCBL has brought about 426 sacks in two consignments so far.  The cooperative has been selling the chillies at Nu 50 a kilogramme at the shed near the Centenary Farmers Market.

Vendors expressed their frustration after they were supplied mostly rotten chillies. As a result, the cost of a kilogramme of the fruit ranged between Nu 50 to Nu 200 last weekend.

The demand for chillies is mostly from Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing. The dzongkhags of Pemagatshel and Lhuentse have not submitted any requirement for imported chilies.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that the government has asked the local vegetable suppliers to procure from suppliers identified by the government but none have come forward until now.

“We understand it’s an expensive affair that’s why we’re doing it to for them,” the minister said.

Tshering Palden