Business Bhutan - - Editorial - YESHEY DORJI Yeshey Dorji is a mem­ber of the Ro­tary Club and an avid blog­ger and pho­tog­ra­pher

I was stunned by the BBS an­nounce­ment that Bhutan is go­ing to im­port 200 truck­loads of chilies a year, from In­dia. This is a chill­ing reve­la­tion. This means that the land of Ema Datsi has been im­port­ing huge amounts of chilies all this while. In other words, the one item of food that most Bhutanese eat every break­fast, lunch and din­ner on a daily ba­sis - has no in-coun­try pro­duc­tion base, to meet the de­mand? This truly is pa­thetic!

This reve­la­tion is per­plex­ing at all lev­els. Let us do some math­e­mat­ics.

Two hun­dred truck­loads would be 1,400 Met­ric Tons of chilies cal­cu­lated at a truck’s car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of 7MT per truck. 1,400 MT bro­ken down to Kgs. would trans­late to 1,400,000 Kgs. of the fiery stuff.

Now, lets con­sider that the im­port of 200 truck­loads of chilies from In­dia would con­sti­tute 10% of our an­nual con­sump­tion. This would mean that Bhutanese peo­ple con­sume a to­tal of 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies a year.

Let us now make an ed­u­cated as­sump­tion that a to­tal of 40% of the res­i­dent Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion do not eat chilies. That seg­ment would in­clude the pop­u­la­tion that is still not of age to eat chilies, those that do not eat the stuff on med­i­cal grounds, and those group of pop­u­la­tion that are past the age when they no longer find eat­ing chilies palat­able. It would also in­clude those that have been driven to para­noia by Dr. Sonam – about eat­ing chilies.

In ad­di­tion, let us pre­sume that 20% of the Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion are work­ing out­side or are not res­i­dent in the coun­try. Add to that 1.46% of the pop­u­la­tion - un­der con­stant la­bor pain and child­birth, in some ma­ter­nity wards (based on Bhutan’s 2015 pop­u­la­tion growth rate). This means that ef­fec­tively 61.46% of the Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion DO NOT splurge on the fiery cap­sai­ci­noids loaded Cap­sicum.

Based on these as­sump­tions, we get a fig­ure of 305,083 ac­tively chili eat­ing Bhutanese, com­puted at to­day’s to­tal Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion of 791,600.

Now di­vide 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies by 305,083 chili eat­ing Bhutanese and you get a tidy sum of 45.89 Kgs. of chilies per Bhutanese per year. Break it fur­ther down to per Bhutanese per day and you get: 0.13 Kgs. of chilies per Bhutanese per day.

This means a Bhutanese con­sumes a Kg. of chilies every 8 days!

The ques­tion is: given this hu­mon­gous cap­tive mar­ket, why isn’t the Bhutanese peo­ple grow­ing more chilies? Why cardamom?

Even at Nu.50.00 per Kg., 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies would trans­late into Nu.700,000,000.00 per year - SEVEN HUN­DRED MIL­LION Nug­gies for a lot of Drups! - while at the same time sav­ing In­dian Rs.70,000,000.00 per an­num.

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