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The Rice-ing Prices

Sometimes in sixties, when Sey Dopola was Tashigang Dzongpon, every village under his jurisdiction were required to contribute labour to work in his farms and orchards. My maternal grandfather, along with some of the people from the neighbouring villages had gone to serve during their turns. Every morning they carried their own pack lunches to work but they were disappointed to see that their pack lunch went missing almost every day. The theft was reported to the Dzongpon when people no longer could tolerate having to stay hungry during hard labour. After some discreet investigation, they found that the culprit was a person called Dorji from Dorey. In fact, he was among those workers. During investigation, Dorji confessed his guilt. However, Dzongpon refused to believe that a single person could eat the food of so many people. So, the Dzongpon took him to kitchen and made him cook one big pot of rice of five dreys. He also gave him three long guteys of much coveted pork, some dried vegetables and two palangs of ara. The Dzongpon conditioned that if he ate all these stuffs, he was a free man but if he could not eat, then he was in deep shit for creating disharmony among the people. Dorji didn’t say anything. It was Dzongpon’s order he had to follow so he silently sat down on the kitchen floor and ate everything that was in pot and drank every drop of ara in the palangs while the Dzongpon looked on. He rolled the palangs on the floor to show that there was nothing left and also showed empty pot to the Dzongpon. The Dzongpon could not believe his eyes. He stood up and exclaimed, “ Dorji, shidu na nan towo oom tur rang zani!!!! ( Dorji, you would die if you eat so much food).” Then he left the room, exclaiming “paw oye, songou tey (what kind of person is this?)!!”
From next day the people carried their lunches in their hemcho (pouch) even when they worked. There was no point in complaining to the Dzongpon.
Jokes aside, there is a serious need to think about food supply in Bhutan today. The land where the food were grown earlier are lost to emerging towns and cities . Even if the land are available, people no longer are interested in working in the fields. Even the countries like China where rice was grown in abundance before, are now buying land for agriculture in poorer countries to meet the increasing demand. India, from where Bhutan gets its supply, announced that they would be importing food this year because there wasn’t enough food to meet their requirements. Many rich countries have eyed lands in Thailand too. Cash starved countries in Africa and some part of Asia are almost sold out. Cultivation of rice and other food items in fertile areas in commercial scale may be a call of the time. A sharp increase in food prices may leave many people far away from being happy.


Anonymous said…
We may hear our stomach growling on the mobile phone soon. Some people have started taking Phika after the cost of milk powders soared. Maybe its back to basic, kharang and joktang moom again. We may look like bird with thin neck and big tummy, fully malnourished. Thats what the recent reports said about children in Bhutan especially in rural areas.
Anonymous said…
Both the writing and comment are thought provoking. When I was in School, I used to pray before lunch, "please, no mula today." But there was alwas mula which was thick, not well cooked and more bad news, it wasn't washed well.
Now that i work, i like mula because mula always comes with some meat. of course u have to buy meat. so i feel my life is complete now. earlier it was just mula. now it is mula with meat. i mean to say that life was hard and plain before but now better.

Karma Loday
Anonymous said…
Did u forget the song, "Lopen Ku chen sung chen, joktang moom sho mey-yang. Apa ama dukpu, pecha lampay marbay la....?" u were lead plate drummer and noise vocalist.
Anonymous said…
Karma Loday, i don't think you would be malnourished. Even at school, you were having party everyday eating mountain of rice on kala buknang or kala khapto with chiilies stolen from nearby village.
Jeevan Nepal said…
This is a good news for all that this country product large amount of rice in world so can't this country help the poor peoples.It is better to solve the domastic problems first.bye

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