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Bhutanโ€™s Green Wave: Surging Demand for Locally Grown, Chemical-Free Produce Despite High Prices

โ€ฆ๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Š๐’… ๐’“๐’Š๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’”, ๐‘ฉ๐’‰๐’–๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’†๐’”๐’† ๐’†๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’† ๐’‡๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’‰, ๐’”๐’–๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’…๐’–๐’„๐’†, ๐’†๐’Ž๐’‘๐’๐’˜๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’“๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’Ž๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’๐’•๐’‰

Sonam Deki

In the face of increased vegetable prices, Bhutanese consumers are demonstrating support for locally grown produce, citing its chemical-free nature and numerous benefits. Despite challenges posed by weather fluctuations and supply chain disruptions, customers continue to prioritize fresh and sustainable options, benefiting both farmers and the country’s agriculture sector.

Karma Wangmo, a vendor at Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) in Thimphu, known for her locally produced outlet, acknowledged the price increase but emphasized the heartening response from customers who understand the importance of supporting local farmers. “Customers appreciate the freshness, quality, and trustworthiness of local produce,” said Karma, reflecting the sentiments of many vendors witnessing the surge in demand.

Deki Choden, another vegetable vendor, shared her experiences, noting a noticeable increase in the demand for locally grown vegetables. Customers are seeking assurance about the provenance of the vegetables and are willing to pay a premium for chemical-free, freshly harvested options.

Local vegetable enthusiasts believe that the benefits of consuming locally sourced vegetables extend beyond the price. Sonam Wangmo, a resident of Paro, highlighted the peace of mind deriving from knowing the source and cultivation practices of her food, making local vegetables the preferred choice for many health-conscious citizens.

“Adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly lowers the risk of numerous diseases. It is important to note that this statement applies to all types of fruits and vegetables, and is not limited to only local produce,” emphasized Hari Prasad Pokhrel, a Nutritionist at the Department of Public Health under the Ministry of Health.

The rising demand for local vegetables has provided a boost to Bhutan’s farmers, offering increased market opportunities and contributing to the nation’s self-sufficiency goals. Farmers like Pema Dorji from Punakha expressed satisfaction with the newfound economic opportunities and the motivation to expand cultivation areas.

โ€œMy family and I personally prefer locally grown vegetables and fruits, but the prices are exorbitant compared to the same vegetables sold across the border. I would appreciate it if the concerned authorities could intervene and make the pricing competitive and affordable for everyone,” said Sonam Dorji, a resident of Thimphu.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL) has been proactive in promoting local vegetable production through various initiatives. The Department of Agriculture has rolled out a comprehensive strategy across 20 dzongkhags, establishing Chain-link establishments to mitigate wildlife intrusions and providing state-of-the-art greenhouses to improve household food security.

Moreover, the department has introduced water-efficient irrigation systems in water-scarce regions and climate-proof irrigation systems to combat the effects of climate change. These initiatives are fostering a transformative movement, empowering local farmers, and ensuring the resilience of agriculture in the country.

As more Bhutanese switch to locally produced vegetables, it underscores the importance of being health-conscious and, in a way, supporting local farmers while preserving the roots of agriculture. As the demand continues to rise, it is hoped that the movement towards consuming chemical-free produce becomes the everyday diet of every Bhutanese.

Despite the challenges posed by rising vegetable prices, the preference for locally produced vegetables among enthusiasts remains steadfast. Whether it’s the assurance of fresh and chemical-free produce for better health or the desire to contribute to the local farming community, their inclination towards locally grown vegetables and fruits underscore the importance of valuing and preserving the roots of agriculture. As the demand for local vegetables continues to surge, it is hoped that this trend will pave the way for a sustainable and thriving future for both farmers and health-conscious customers alike.

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