Yam Kumar Poudel

The shortage of maida (refined and bleached wheat flour) has led restaurants, bakeries, and confectioneries to close their business.

The situation comes at the heel of India restricting the supply of the flour.

A shop owner recently had to close the business for more than 15 days due to the lack of flour supply.

“We got a small supply today. We might have to close it again next week,” said the marketing executive of Norbu Bakery.

Om Bakery in Thimphu has been running its business so far from the stock of the flour it had.

Kinley Choden, a baker, said the price of the flour began to shoot up following the news of export restrictions from India. “This has hampered our business to a great extent.”

The owner of the Wangchen Momo Corner, said, “Many customers prefer our dumplings. With the last available stock and by adjusting from around, we are providing the service. We had no issues before the restriction notice. The shooting of the flour price and the shortage supply is now a serious problem.”

Gahsel Store, a grocery wholesaler, gets its flour supply from India and supplies flour such as maida and atta to cafes, bakeries, and restaurants. Since the announcement of the restriction on flour export from India, the store has been unable to supply to its customer.

“We supply about 200 metric tonnes of flour to Thimphu in a month. We supply also to other dzongkhags such as Punakha, Wangdue, Chhukha, Paro, Samtse and several others,” said the owner of Gahsel Store. “We procured a truckload of flour from India the day before the restriction notice. For that, we had to furnish the details to Bhutanese officials about the consignment and where we are going to distribute it. The consignments have not arrived in Thimphu still. These requirements further complicate the problem.”

The notice of export restriction of the flour came on August 27.

The government has made an arrangement to make domestically produced flour to be supplied in the country.

Drahla Flour Mill in Phuentsholing produces wheat products such as attamaida, and suji. However, the mill has not been able to meet the demands from the distributors and retailers.

According to the statistics from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bhutan imported around 20,000 tonnes of atta and maida from India worth over Nu 275 million last year.

Bhutan produced around 1,600 tonnes of wheat flour in a year on average in the last five years.