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Floods bring higher prices on vegetables to Vegetarian Festival



PHOTO: Prices on vegetables surge before the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. (via Temple of Thai)

The world-famous Phuket Vegetarian Festival is set to begin on Wednesday, but aside from Covid-19, the flooding in Thailand has also proved to be damaging the upcoming festivities by driving up the cost and scarcity of vegetables. The heavy rains from tropical storm Dianmu have damaged many crops including vegetables in the central, north, and northeastern regions. Plus floods have wiped out roads, and halted train services, further complicating the availability of vegetables.

The festival was already expected to be somewhat milder due to the pandemic raising concerns about safety with large crowds coming out to celebrate. But now many vegetables that are typically featured during the festival have increased costs by 10 to 20 baht per kilogramme, causing difficulty for vendors in general, and especially for the festival.

Before the festival, produce vendors are already reporting that their sales are suffering from the combination of the floods increasing the cost of their products while Covid-19 has left many with less available money the purchase their vegetables. Vegetables such as kale, morning glory, eggplant, and celery have all seen it increase in cost, driving away potential buyers.

Festival participants are already getting ready though for the event, which draws many people to the shrines and temples in the area. Shrines and everything associated with them including amulets, lanterns, and even all the cooking utensils and equipment and tables are all being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

During the festival, health and safety measures will be strictly enforced. Even the traditional procession of monks that conduct a walking parade through the city will now instead be carried out as a procession of cars with the monks inside. And visitors to shrines will have to do temperature checks and will be required to wear face masks at all times.

Some shrines are even restricting entry to only those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.  Jui Tui Shrine in Mueang district on Ranong Road is one of those cautious locations. It is known as the largest shrine in Phuket and traditionally draws huge crowds even before the festival begins in preparation. This year though the shrine is taking Covid-19 very seriously and has banned stalls on the streets nearest gates and has generally hampered any crowd gathering activities.

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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