Rajesh Rai| Phuentsholing 

Supply of vegetables in Phuentsholing during this lockdown has been better than the distribution in the first lockdown, which left many frustrated.

Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL) changed its distribution technique.

Rather than distributing to individual households like in the first lockdown in August last year, FCBL distributed vegetables to retail outlets covering all the zones from Toorsa settlement to Pasakha.

There are 105 retail outlets that buy from FCBL and cater the people.

A retailer, Sonam Chenzom said the supply of vegetables from FCBL was enough this time.

“Both local vegetables and imported ones are available,” she said.

Although the profit margin was slimmer, supply was plenty and the price had also dropped.

Sonam Chenzom said she purchased watermelon at Nu 30.99 a kg from FCBL and sold at Nu 40. Potatoes bought at Nu 32.97 per kg are sold at 40.

Retailers are also given the choice to either pick up the vegetables from FCBL auction yard or have it delivered to their shops.

Sonam Chenzom said the only problem was that some vegetables come spoiled.

“But we can immediately return the rotten vegetables and fruits,” she said.

Another, retailer, Dorji Khandu also said that damaged vegetables came mixed with the good ones.

“The good thing is the price has decreased,” he said. “We go to the FCBL auction yard to get the vegetables every one to two days.”

Just before the lockdown, potato was sold at Nu 70-80, today it is Nu 40 a kg.

Dorji Khandu said the supplier across the border kept the rates high, which had caused the price to go higher in Phuentsholing. Suppliers were selling the potato from the cold storage, at a time when Bhutanese potatoes exhausted in the market, he added.

To cater to the needs of the people residing at the temporary settlement area in Toorsa, FCBL also opened grocery and vegetable shops within the settlement.

A resident Tendrel Zangmo said it got so much easier now to fetch vegetables.

FCBL’s director of corporate services, Lhakpa Sherpa said, “The organisation has close contacts with the suppliers across the border.”

He said the earlier rate by the vendors were high because the purchasing price vendors paid was higher than the current retail price and profit put together.

“Should the lockdown continue, we are still trying to bring down the price,” Lhakpa Sherpa said.

Between December 23, when lockdown began, and January 3, FCBL distributed 82.7 metric tonnes (MT) of vegetables, 18.5MT fruits, and 442.5kgs of livestock products, including meat. FCBL also distributed about 2.5MT of vegetables and dairy products that were purchased from the domestic market.