Chhimi Dema 

The Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) stopped importing chilli since March 8 because of high presence of pesticides.

The corporation started importing chilli from January 6 after the government approved a time-bound import of chillies to ensure availability, stabilise price and curb illegal import in the country.

FCBL’s chief executive officer, Naiten Wangchuk, said they requested MoAF to withhold the import due to heavy presence of pesticides, which would pose risk to public health.

“If there is a risk to public health, it is not worth importing though the demand is high,” he said.

FCBL imported 439.1 metric tonnes of chilli worth Nu 26.5 million from January 6 to March 8.

Records with FCBL shows that 227.5 MT was distributed to Thimphu, 71.1MT to Phuentsholing, 60.7 MT to Gelephu, and 56.1 MT to Samdrupjongkhar, from which it was distributed to other dzongkhags.

The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority seized two consignments of chilli from Samdrupjongkhar and Phuentsholing after the detection of pesticides.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of chilli in the market.

A vegetable vendor in Changjiji said that it has been a week since she ran out of her chilli stock.

“The suppliers told us that they will bring chilli today,” she said. “At least five people in a day ask for chilli.”

Sanam Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the ministry had requested the dzongkhag agriculture officers and dzongdags for chilli production status in their dzongkhags.

“If farmers have the potential to produce then we might stop the import from March,” he said.

The minister said the weather in the south is getting warmer and it seems that the farmers are using a heavy dosage of pesticides to repel pest.