Imports: The Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) is importing 20 metric tonnes (MT) of green chillies from Kolkata in India. The first consignment of 7,951kg was delivered in Phuentsholing yesterday evening.

Officials with FCBL said that the chillies are transported in trucks from Kolkata. FCBL marketing advisor Bhimraj Gurung said about 10MT will go to the Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu given the high demand there.

“Until the local chillies come into the market, the government will manage,” Bhimraj Gurung said, adding that FCBL is also looking at collaborating with Indian traders having Bhutanese licenses and looking for more options.

The Phuentsholing vegetable market also received its first chilli consignment of 883kgs on the evening of December 6. FCBL distributed the chillies to the vegetable vendors (retailers) at Nu 40/kg.

“Retailers are however not allowed to sell above Nu 50/kg,” Bhimraj Gurung said.

The import of 883kg is a separate consignment initiated by the Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), of the agriculture ministry. It is a continuation of the 3MT of chillies DAMC is importing, out of which the first 1,500kg was delivered in Thimphu.

About 996kg of this order also arrived yesterday in Phuentsholing in a Bhutan Post bus from Kolkata. This will be sent to Paro.

Meanwhile, there is not much rush to buy chillies at the vegetable market in Phuentsholing.

A construction employee, Pema Cheda, who bought 1kg of green chilies from the market, said that he consumed chilies from Jaigaon. “There is no option,” he said.

A woman, Yeshey, who had come with her friends to buy vegetables, did not know where the chillies were imported from. She also did not know about the difference in the chillies sold now and in the past.

An Indian vegetable vendor operating in the Phuentsholing vegetable market, Ashok Kumar Shah, said he bought 32kgs of chillies from the wholesaler yesterday and has so far sold only about 13kgs.

Ashok Kumar Shah said people might be still buying chillies from across the border at cheaper prices.

Another vegetable vendor Kapil Dev Shah had bought 10kgs from a wholesaler on the evening of December 6. All the chillies were sold yesterday.

A local vendor, Ran Maya Rai, also sold more than 90 percent of the 46kgs of green chillies she bought. Although people are coming, she said there is not much rush, adding business went on as usual.

FCBL will regulate the price of chillies at Nu 35/kg nationwide for vendors. However, the vegetable vendors will not be allowed to charge more than Nu 50/kg.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing