The Fire Female Bird year was a blessing for the people of Samtse, as His Majesty The King visited several gewogs and met with the people.

The residents of Tashichholing were blessed twice, His Majesty the King visited the Tashichholing Shiva Mandir on August 23 and offered a Ganesh statue to the temple. His Majesty The King again visited Tashichholing on January 30, 2018, and offered a life-size Shiva statue to Tashichholing Shiva Mandir.

His Majesty also granted land kidu to the people of Samtse.

Then it was His Holiness the Jekhenpo’s visit and consecration of the new Dogap Lhakhang.

The fire female bird did not lay much luck for farmers into agriculture business.

But it was the business hub that stayed in the limelight since the potato business did not do well unlike the past years. The quantities of the produce brought to the auction yard dropped, as a “late blight” disease affected the plants. Agriculture officials attributed it to intermittent rainfall.

The potato farmers faced another hurdle at the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) auction yard in Phuentsholing with hundreds of truckloads of potatoes stranded on the roadsides for more than a month’s time waiting for their turn to an auction. Potatoes rotted.

It was not a pleasant year for the cardamom growers, as the price of the spice dropped to a historic low. The cardamom that fetched more than Nu 2,000 per kg in 2014 and 2015 dwindled down to Nu 800 to Nu 1,000 in early days of the Fire Female Bird Year. By mid-year, cardamom farmers in Chukha and Samtse saw the lowest price at Nu 500 to Nu 550 per kg.

In the case of the mandarin, supply couldn’t match the demand. Country’s largest orange depot in Toorsa commenced 10 days later than the usual time and stopped more than a month ago. Farmers had nothing to bring from their orchards. The bird signaled that the old mandarin trees in the hills across the country are dying.

Meanwhile, the introduction of Indian Goods and Services Tax (GST) created a lot of chaos. Bhutanese officials had to go to Delhi to study its impacts.

In Phuentsholing, people were panicking due to the lack of GST knowledge and troubles emerged with its implementations.

Importers faced major service disruption when they had to wait for more than a month at the customs office across the border in Jaigaon. More than 300 trucks carrying Bhutanese imports were stranded across the border for several days.

Of all the sectors, cement and beverages were hit the most in Bhutan. Their story of struggle continues in the Dog year.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing