Chhimi Dema 

Doma (chewing mixture of areca nut and betel leaf) is consumed widely in Bhutan for its stimulant effects.

However, there has been a drastic rise in the price of doma. Blame it on the Covid-19 pandemic? It’s a popular excuse anyway.

The price of doma has been rising steadily over the years, though. For Nu 10 one would get four pieces of doma. Then the price went up to Nu 20, and then 40. Now seven pieces of doma cost Nu 50.

Passang, from Thimphu, spends more than Nu 200 on doma in a day. “It is a habit I can’t kick.”

An owner of a pan shop owner on the Norzin Lam said that the price of doma had increased by more than 40 percent within 10 months.

She said that she bought 80 pieces (one pon) of doma for Nu 620. And, bought Meetha (sweet) and Bangla betel leaves at Nu 100 for 30 and 20 leaves respectively.

“When the wholesalers increase the price of doma, we have to decrease the amount of doma in a packet,” she said.

A few months ago, retailers could get a pon of doma for Nu 380.

“The sale decreased in a few months. I could sell more than 450 pieces of doma in a day before the pandemic. Now I can sell only about 250 pieces in a day,” she said.

Another doma seller said: “Doma sells well.”

She said that her daily income from the sale of doma was Nu 3,000. “The sale dropped this time because I could not buy doma from the wholesalers.”

A wholesaler in Thimphu said that a sack of doma (roughly 48,000 pieces) costs Nu 34,200 from India, excluding transportation charges.

Jewan Kharka, a wholesaler in Thimphu, said that the sale was better only during the harvest season.

There was no continuous supply of doma from the Bhutanese growers, Jewan Kharka said.

According to the trade statistics, in 2019, Bhutan imported 684.52 MT (metric tonnes) worth Nu 51.22M (million) and exported 5,194.28 MT of doma-paney.