Amid the Covid pandemic, Thimphu Thromde introduced mini and medium vegetable markets in different zones. The aim-to reduce the spread of the virus by decongesting the normally crowded Centenary Farmers’ Market. And in doing so, it seems to have also affected the businesses of vegetable vendors who continue to operate at the CFM.
Before the pandemic, there were more than 500 vegetable vendors at the centenary farmers’ market.
But with the outbreak of the covid infections, the Thromde started constructing more than a hundred sheds across the city.
While it initially started with only 80 vendors shifting to these markets, the vendors say many more followed.
Today, those still trying to make a living from the CFM say their businesses haven’t picked up. And they claim one of the reasons is because of the zone markets.
“Our businesses have not been doing well these days. Earlier, we could sell all of our stock by Sunday. Now, we are not able to sell as much. Ever since vegetable markets have been set up across Thimphu, people don’t come here much. It is even difficult to sell the week’s vegetable stock now,” said Tshering Pem, a vegetable vendor at the CFM.
“Since the vegetable markets have been set up in the different zones, it has affected business here. People visit the vegetable markets in their own zones, so the number of customers here has decreased. Our business is not going as well as before,” said Kinley Pema, another vegetable vendor at the CFM.
“Before the covid-19 pandemic, we used to get around 50 kg of vegetables to sell for the week. But now, we get around 40 kg of vegetables. Before the pandemic, a lot of people used to come here. Now, we don’t see many customers even during the weekends,” added Ten Choezom, another vegetable vendor.
While the vendors at the CFM are not very happy with the zone markets, residents in Thimphu say they have benefitted.
“People had to go to the centenary farmers’ market to buy vegetables. Now, people can just walk to the nearest vegetable market in their zones to buy vegetables, which is convenient. We can also save money because we don’t have to take taxis or buses to go buy vegetables,” said Hari Dash Rai, a resident of Babesa.
“Because we run a restaurant, we don’t buy vegetables in bulk. That is why it is very convenient for us that the vegetable market is close by. Earlier, we had to take a taxi to get the vegetables from the centenary farmer’s market,” added Bina Rai, who runs a restaurant at Babesa.
Meanwhile, the Thromde says there is nothing to be done regarding the issue since they already discussed it with the vendors while introducing the zone markets. An official said they also encouraged the vendors to move to these markets but that some refused to do so.
At present, there are 8 mini-markets and 7 medium markets, and one medium market under construction.
Karma Samten Wangda
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen