Tashi Wangmo, a dried vegetable vendor at the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) used to earn between Nu 5,000 and Nu 6,000 every day before the lockdown. Today, her daily sales dropped to less than Nu 1,000.
But she is not alone. Many complain the income doesn’t even recover their investment.
Vendors at CFM said that the business had been struggling owing to more vegetable vendors in the market and poor customer turnout.
“Exorbitant prices of local agricultural products after import from India stopped do not attract customers,” a vendor said.
To boost their sales, some vendors continue to occupy the slots with borrowed cards or permits from those who cannot come to take their turn to sell at CFM. A few vendors have discontinued selling at the market and given the cards to their friends.
CFM re-opened on October 14 at one-third of its capacity with three card system: green, blue, and yellow. Each vendor can sell for a week and has to wait for two weeks for their next turn.
Some CFM vendors sell at the multi-level car park II and move to CFM when their turn comes.
Thimphu Thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee said that a vendor could vend from multiple locations be it MLCP, in the zones or the CFM provided they paid rent for all the locations.
“According to the directive from the prime minister’s office, the first preference would be given to CFM vendors to vend from the vegetable markets in the zone,” he said.
Vendors at the CFM said that they wish to sell at all available venues: vegetable market in the zones, MLCP I and II, and the CFM.
A vendor, Chimi Wangmo said that CFM was a good location and didn’t want to give up on the spot.
A livestock product seller, Dema said that she is making home deliveries while she doesn’t sell at the CFM.
Another vendor, Tsheltrim said that with the business down at CFM she was in a dilemma whether or not to sell at the vegetable zones.
“However, I’ll try to sell at Changbangdu zone and if business is good there I’ll leave CFM.” Tsheltrim during the lucky dip got Changbangdu zone.
Vendors said that customers complained about protocols to enter CFM. Most were buying vegetables from shops, they said.
However, one of the vendors said that selling for a week at CFM was enough to sustain and she would continue to vend at CFM with all the conditions. “I tried to sell in the zone I got during lucky draw, MLCP II but I could only get Nu 100 in a day.”
Most vendors are looking forward to how the business would be in vegetable markets in zones. The vegetable markets in the zones are expected to complete by end of November.