Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
The prices of tomato and onion have increased by a significant margin in Phuentsholing, almost 300 percent increase compared with the price before lockdown.
At the vegetable complex on October 1, not many vendors had tomato and onion. Those who had were selling at Nu 200 per kg. Before the lockdown, a kg of onion and tomato were sold at Nu 40 and Nu 50, respectively.
The scarcity of these vegetables was felt after the government suspended the import of vegetables due to border closure.
Later, FCBL resumed import of these produce from Samtse and Gelephu after Phuentsholing was declared a red zone.
On September 14, India prohibited export of onion, which further attributed to the shortage of onion in Bhutan.
A Phuentsholing resident, Deki, said that never in her was onion and tomato so expensive.
A vendor said that she brought the tomato and onion from Samtse. She then sold to other vendors at the complex. “The price rise happens from the source.”
Many vendors have stopped selling onion and tomato altogether.
A vegetable vendor in Samtse, Phub Gyem, said that prices of these vegetables in Phuentsholing could be higher because of the transportation cost. “Transportation costs can go as high as Nu 5,000.”
FCBL buys tomato from Phuentsholing
FCBL started buying and distributing tomatoes from Phuentsholing since September 30. As of September 30, a kilogram of tomato was Nu 200 per kilogram.
The corporation’s corporate business director, Dorji Tashi, said the price of the tomato had risen by almost three times. “Going the directives of the agriculture ministry, retailers can only keep 25 percent margin on our selling price, which comes to about Nu 98 per kg.”
As of October 1, FCBL procured 44.44 metric tonnes (MT) of tomatoes; 14.10MT for has been kept for Phuentsholing.