It was not what they expected after authorities convinced them. While vegetable vendors in the zones are filling up gradually, vendors say business is far from what they expected.
Thimphu Thromde constructed eight minor and six medium vegetable markets around the thromde starting from Dangrina in the north to the IT park in the south.
Vendors said people are not aware of the vegetable outlets and wants the thromde to market the sheds by installing signboards and advertise the markets, as many people do not know about it which could be the reason for poor customer turn out.
Of the 17 counters in a medium vegetable market in Changidaphu only four are occupied by three vegetable vendors and a meat vendor.
A vegetable vendor in Changidaphu said she was running on loss. Her counter is half-filled with a few varieties of vegetables and some home made pickles. She said that she stopped restocking since there were no customers.
Another vendor in Changidaphu said that she got into vending vegetables to support her family after she got separated from her husband. “ My only hope is with time the business would pick up.”
Monthly rents for vegetable counters in Changidaphu is Nu 1,600 whereas medium vegetable markets in other zones are between Nu 3,300 and Nu 3,700. Thimphu Thromde reduced the rent in Changidaphu as the construction of Changidaphu road is hampering business.
A meat vendor, Anub Kumar said he was requesting thromde to reduce his rent as well. “ I don’t get rent concession. I pay Nu 20,213.”
A vendor in a minor vegetable market in Langjopakha has turned his vegetable counter into a storeroom and is vending from a private slot. A vendor, Pema Yuden in Langjopakha said she would sell for a year and would close her shop if the business did not pick up.
Vendors in the Taba medium vegetable market have started to dry vegetables that are at risk of getting spoilt. A vendor in Taba said they couldnot even sell half the amount of vegetables which was why we have started drying vegetables instead of dumping them.
Yeshi Dorji, a former worker with a tourism company said he was thankful to thromde for giving a chance for laid-off workers like him to venture into new business. “Business is challenging. I can hardly meet the cost price today but I know when pandemic is over the business will pick up.”
A vendor in the Zilukha minor vegetable market has given up his slot.
A vendor in a minor vegetable market in Dangrina said she regrets giving up her spot in the Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM). She said her slot at the CFM was given to a new vendor. “Most people in Dangrina have a kitchen garden and seldom buy vegetables.”
She said considering the location thromde could lower the rent in Dangrina like in Changidaphu. The rent in Dangrina’s vegetable market is Nu 4,022.
Two CFM vendors are also vending from a minor vegetable market in Chang Ziri. Tshering Yangdon vending from Chang Ziri said that she was told that vendors in the zones coud sell fruits, vegetables, and meat. She bought a freezer.
She said she was not allowed to sell meat without a licence. “I paid Nu 25,000 for the freezer. I should be at least allowed to sell frozen meat.”
Tshering Yangdon, a vendor in Chang Ziri said people preferred to do weekly shopping from the CFM and only came to the zone markets when they were in short supply of certain vegetables during the week.
However, the business is good in medium Lungtenphug zone market where there are 15 counters – 13 vegetable counters, a meat counter, and a sales outlet of Bhutan Livestock Development.
A vendor in Lungtenphug said their only problem was the lack of parking space.
Vendors at the Olakha temporary vegetable market which was shifted to zone market in Jungshina vegetable market was unhappy when they first started business in Jungshina, but today, the vendors said their business is slowly picking up.