Phub Dem | Paro

Villagers in Paro and vegetable vendors in Tshongdue compete for the same place to sell vegetables every weekend.

This is because the vendors leave the stall they are provided and sell from open spaces allocated for local farmers, pushing the farmers to entry and exit points.

A farmer from Shaba, Namgay, was looking for space with fresh beetroots and other vegetables on Sunday.

Local vendors, who move out of their stall, are seen with umbrellas to beat the rain and scorching sun.

According to Namgay, farmers are constantly deprived of spots to sell their produce, although the government constructed a proper shed for vendors. “It is discouraging for farmers.”

He said they could sell it to vendors, but at a huge loss. “Vendors only pay us Nu 20 to a bundle of beetroot that fetches Nu 70.”

It has been more than a year since villagers and vendors have competed for the space.

A farmer from Tsendona, Zam, said villagers come to market once in a week during which they were not allowed to do business peacefully. “We were asked to relocate three times. It is difficult when you have to move the perishable goods time and again.”

Although a committee decided to allocate a space in the middle of stalls for the farmers, regular vendors occupied that space too, forcing local vendors to crowd along the aisle.

Vendors also share their problem.

According to a regular vendor, Tandin, they have to occupy the space allocated to villagers, as her stall was far from the exit and entry gate. “Customers do not visit my stall.”

She said the stalls were too small to accommodate the goods, and it was challenging to cover the rent.

Another regular vendor, Phub Dem, said that people purchase goods from nearby stalls depriving those located afar without any sale. “We tried to do business from our stalls for some days, but no customers visited our stall.”

She claimed that of the 43 vendors whose stalls were located far from the exit and entry gate, some left the business due to the spot issue.

It has been three weeks since the municipal office allocated 88 sheds to regular vendors.

Locals were given two semi-permanent structures at the centre of the market to be used during Sundays.

According to Paro Dzongrab, Kinley Gyeltshen, the dzongkhag administration planned to open entry and exit points from the lower gate as an interim measure, adding that local vendors will use the lower entrance to sell their produce.

Local and permanent vendors have to share this temporary space until the permanent vegetable market shed is completed, which will take around two years.

Considering the risk of crowding, the chief agriculture officer of Paro, Tshering N Penjore, said that starting next weekend, relevant officials such as police, desuups, municipal and local leaders would make things convenient.

He said there are enough spaces, but regular vendors leave their place and crowd near the entry and exit point. “About 43 cubicles are left empty.”

Edited by Tashi Dema