Phurpa Lhamo  | Punakha     

While consumers complain about soaring vegetable prices amid the second nationwide lockdown, vendors and farmers claim they are running into loss because of decrease in vegetable price.

In Kabisa gewog’s Sirigang-Wakoo-Damchi chiwog, all 150 households engage in vegetable cultivation. Farmers are, however, disappointed with the sale of their products in recent days.

According to chiwog tshogpa Kinley, farmers were forced to sell their produce to avoid it rotting in the villages.

He said farmers sold broccoli and cauliflower for Nu 50 and Nu 80. “This is a decrease from Nu 100 for broccoli and Nu 150 for cauliflower prior to the lockdown.”

While farmers are aware of the approved purchase price issued by the agriculture ministry, farmers claim vendors bargain over the price.

In Barp gewog, farmer Kinley said that although spinach was supposed to fetch Nu 20, he sold his at Nu 10. “Except for radish, the prices for other available vegetables were decreased by Nu 10 and Nu 20.”

However, spinach, corianders, and spring onions aren’t sold at more than Nu 15 in Wangdue and Punakha markets. These produce are sold mostly at Nu 10.

This is a decrease from Nu 30, the allocated retail price by the agriculture ministry.

Vendors have their own claim.

A Bajo vendor, Pema Choden, claimed that spinach she bought at Nu 15 was sold at Nu 10 as she feared the produce would be damaged.

With transportation and loading charges, the vendors said they were running the business in loss.

Another vendor, Lhakpa Dema, said that during the first lockdown, vendors did receive dzongkhag vehicles to buy vegetables from the farmers.  Today, vendors move within gewogs collecting vegetables.

“We do follow the office of consumer protection (OCP) rate. There are officials in town and also in gewog to oversee the sale and pricing,” she said.

Vendors complain that while vegetables bought in bundles fetched at least Nu 5 profit, they do not profit from vegetables bought in sacks.

A vegetable vendor at Lobesa, Thinley Choden, said she had to dispose most vegetables, as there were no buyers.

She said that she had not received any returns for what she had invested in the past weeks. “People still say the vegetable prices are high.”

She said she bought chillies (big) for Nu 6,000 a sack. “A sack should weigh 20kg but it was always short of a kilogramme or two. We also have to pay for the vehicle charges and then the plastics as well.”