Yangyel Lhaden

Of the eight minor vegetable markets in Thimphu, one each in Chang Gidaphu and Chang Ziri zones that have opened for business have become popular in the communities.

Thimphu Thromde started constructing vegetable markets to de-congest Centenary Farmers’ Markets (CFM) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Construction of eight minor markets completed in February and were handed over to three vendors – two in Chang Ziri and one in Chang Gidaphu.

In the minor markets, vendors sell all the varieties available on the ground and upper floor of CFM, meaning, they can sell a wide range of fresh and dried vegetables, fruits, dairy, incense and other related products, and dried meat.

Residents in Chang Ziri said they could get almost everything (from vegetables, fruits to grocery items) from the market and closer to their homes.

Dema from Chang Gidaphu said now she buys fresh vegetables anytime she wanted. “Earlier, I used to go vegetable shopping once a week and store it.”

A civil servant living in Motithang said he bought vegetables on his way back home and the minor market had been convenient.

Residents at the NPPF colony in Chang Ziri said that they had not been to town for vegetable shopping for more than a month. “The traffic and parking space problems are awful in town.”

However, the residents wish the minor markets could sell fresh meat.

Initially, the thromde office mandate was to make every product available at CFM available in vegetable markets in the zones.

An official from the thromde office, Sonam Namgay, said they tried their best to allow vendors to sell fresh meat but it was not approved by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority. “According to BAFRA, wet meat can only be sold in meat shops.”

Tshering Yangdon, a vendor in Chang Ziri, bought a freezer but is now planning to sell the freezer for a fridge to store dairy items.

She said business was picking up and it was better than at CFM.

The priority to sell at vegetable markets in the zones are given to CFM vendors as per the government’s directive.

A vendor in Chang Ziri, Phub Gyem said it was convenient to sell from the zone as CFM was congested. “At CFM I had to piggyback my toddler but here I have a room where my toddler can sleep and play.”

Every minor-market has a shutter, parking space, storage room, and an attached toilet.

However, in the zones where minor vegetable markets aren’t opened for business, residents are hoping they will open soon.

A resident from Dangsina said she had to travel by city bus or taxi to town to buy vegetables.  She said though shops in the area sold vegetables, for variety she had to visit the town.

Sonam Namgay said the thromde office faced allotment issues but the businesses in eight minor markets would begin from April.

He said CFM vendors did not turn up and those interested vendors wanted a specific location, which delayed allotment.

Meanwhile, six medium vegetable markets are expected to complete soon.