Phuntsho Wangdi is nervous.
Dazed, the 45-year-old farmer from Ramjar gewog in Trashiyangtse unloads six sacks from a Bolero and waits near the taxi parking in Trashigang town.
Phuntsho Wangdi has some 160kg of chillies to sell and there are already some five vendors from Trashiyangtse who have come to sell chillies.
However, his nervousness soon turns into confidence as people start to gather around to buy his chillies. Chillies are sold like hot cakes in Trashigang.
The chillies goes at the price of Nu 140 per kg, but Phuntsho Wangdi said that he can go as low as Nu 100 per kg and still wont suffer any loss. The people, however, find the price reasonable.
“Is it from Yangtse?” asks a customer. He takes three kilograms of the chillies.
“It is difficult to find chillies these days. It is a little expensive, but the taste makes up for the price,” said that customer.
Another customer, Tshering Wangmo, runs a restaurant in Trashigang. She takes two kg. “These chillies are ideal for ema datse. They are not very spicy and, at the same time, the curry also looks attractive.”
Phuntsho Wangdi said that with Indian chillies banned, the business has been good for him. “We would hardly sell 50kg before. Today, we can sell more than 150kg of our locally grown chillies.”
He said that before the ban, only those who had a decent source of income could afford the chillies from Trashiyangtse. But today, everyone buys the chillies because it is the only available chilli to them.
Another vendor, Tashi Dawa, who managed to sell some 50kg of chillies, said that it didn’t take him half day to finish selling all his chillies. “It is a lucrative business and the market is decent although the vendors are increasing by the day,” he said.
By evening Phuntsho Wangdi has already sold half of his 160kg of chillies. “Looks like it’s going to take another day to finish the stock,” he said.
By midday the next day, Phuntsho Wangdi enters a taxi with an empty bamboo basket. He carries a smile on his face as he waves goodbye to his fellow vendors who are busy selling their chillies.
Phuntsho Wangdi made about Nu 15,000 from the 160kg of chillies. “I will be coming back in September again with a little more chillies than this time,” he said.
Chillies are grown in three phases in Trashiyangtse. During the first phase, March-April, the price of the chilli is as high as Nu 300 per kg.
Younten Tshedup | Trashigang