Low production in the plains is raising the cost of the nut
By Kinley Yonten
If chewing doma (areca nut) is a dirty habit, it is now an expensive habit too.
Price of doma is shooting through the roof with Nu 10 fetching only tow khamtos (two ready-made doma). That is the money that fetched a backload of doma from Pasakha in the 1960s.
Bhutanese love chewing doma, a habit many abhore. The escalating cost could perhaps discourage some from switching to a better habit.
Selling doma is a lucrative business, but many shops are today complaining of increasing cost of the nut and the leaves. A pon (80 pieces) cost Nu 420. This is about Nu 5.25 a doma. Retailers break that into three or four pieces, depending on the size. Six doma with leaves cost Nu 20. Retailers are now decreasing the size of the packet to five. Each leaves (pan) cost Nu 1.
The new craze for metha pata (sweet leaves) is even costlier. Nu 20 could now only fetch three khamtos in many shops.
Muti Ram is a doma supplier in the capital. He gets his supply from Gelephu and Phuntsholing. “The price is high from the source,” he said. “Production of doma has declined this year.”
Muti Ram is not aware why the production is low. But some pan shops are attributing the rising cost to the problem in Darjeeling. Muti Ram said that he couldn’t stock like in the past. “There is not much coming from Gelephu.”
Doma chewers are meanwhile feeling the pinch. Karchung, 53, is an avid doma eater. He spends more than ngultrum 100 per day. “I have to spend twice,” he said. Another doma chewer, Pala said that he could get only one for Nu 5. “The quality of the doma is also bad.”
Pan shops are seeing a slow business. One of the shopkeepers said he is seeing fewer people coming to buy doma after he reduced the quantity. A pan shopkeeper at Changzamtok said, “In a day I earn about Nu. 500 – 600 selling doma before but over a month, it has reduces to Nu. 200 – 300.”
Meanwhile, non-doma chewers said that the increasing cost could discourage people from abusing doma. “It will be good for aesthetics,” said one