The Bhutan Agriculture Ministry has asked several districts to grow onion and tomatoes as an immediate intervention to address the shortage in the country following India’s ban on exports.
On September 14, India prohibited exports of onion except for those cut, sliced and powdered as prices trebled in a month after excessive rainfall hit crops in southern states. The ban is likely to worsen the Bhutan onion shortage.
Director Kinlay Tshering of the of Agriculture Department said that with the provision of seeds, subsidies, and technical assistance, the ministry plans to expand the production of these vegetables in the next two to three years, in order to meet the domestic demand.
According to Kinlay Tshering onions take 7-8 months to produce after which imported onions would present a stiff price competition to local producers. “Growers don’t have a price assurance from the domestic market.”
The prices of onions and tomatoes in the country increased drastically after the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) resumed its import a week ago. Although the ministry set fixed prices for onion and tomatoes, the prices rose as high as Nu 150 a kilogram (€1.80) in Thimphu. The Office of Consumer Protection fined 21 vegetable sellers for charging more than the fixed retail prices for the products.
According to kuenselonline.com, the Bhutan government is working on attaining self-sufficiency regarding chillies, tomatoes, and onions.