Agriculture: The ban on the import of green chillies from India has come as a blessing for the villagers of Menchari in Orong gewog. The ban has not only boosted the production and sale of local chillies but also the price.

Popularly known as “Orongpa Solu”, the locally grown chilli is highly sought after at the Samdrupjongkhar vegetable market.

The chilli, which has been cultivated by generations of the people of Menchari, has helped provide the village with a steady income and paid for the education of several. The chilli has also helped many of the villagers to clear their loans.

There are 23 households and each cultivate the chilli.

With a kilogramme fetching about Nu 100, a household earns not less than Nu 80,000 in a year. Samdrupjongkhar is the main market.

But with the ban coming into force a few months back, the villagers are now getting Nu 120/kg on average, which means each household will make more than Nu 100,000 this year.

Vegetable vendors sell the chilli for Nu 140/kg in the market.

“Our chillies are mostly known for its spicy taste,” a farmer, Tenzin, said.

Another farmer, Changlupay, said the Orongpa Solu is grown only in Menchari and the practice has been passed down from generation to generation.

Kinzang Dhendup, 80, said that when he was young the villagers would cut down thick forest to plant these chillies because it would fetch them 25 chettrum a kilogramme, which was a huge sum then.

“We’ve been growing these chillies for a long time now and I’m not sure where we got the seeds from. We don’t even know how the chilli got its name.”

However, villagers said even if the ban is lifted they are sure they would still continue to make a good income from the chilli.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Orong