Farming: Asparagus farming is becoming a lucrative business for farmers of Gongthung in Trashigang.

While a few have started growing asparagus in large areas, most farmers grow the perennial plant in about three decimal of land.

Growing asparagus, farmers said, dates back to the 1990s when the agriculture ministry first introduced the plant in the village. About six households first took up cultivation in a small scale.

One of the first growers, Seldon, grows asparagus in her two-decimal land. She would make about Nu 10,000. A bundle of asparagus fetches at least Nu 25.

“Today, the price has also gone up to as high as Nu 40 per bundle. I can easily make Nu 15,000 in a year,” she said. “If one is willing to work harder, asparagus farming is better than growing potatoes.”

Ugyen Wangdi, 62, came much later into asparagus farming. However, he has made about Nu 500,000 in the last five years. He is already an example to others in the village.

Ugyen Wangdi had approached the agriculture department with plans to take it up on a large scale. “In 2010, I was provided with free asparagus crowns and technical assistance by agriculture officials,” he said. “Since then, I have been growing asparagus on my 50 decimals land. It has proved very rewarding.”

He sells his produce in Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Mongar and Samdrupjongkhar. He has also started selling asparagus crowns and seeds.

“The seeds and crowns alone have fetched about Nu 50,000 so far. Next year, I am planning to plant fresh crowns in larger quantities,” he said.

Looking at the success of these farmers, more villagers are getting into asparagus farming today. Dechen Wangmo, a shopkeeper, took up asparagus farming in 2013.

“Last year, I harvested the first batch of asparagus on my three decimal land and made Nu 10,000 from,” Dechen Wangmo said. “If there is support from the agriculture department, more villagers are willing to get into asparagus farming.”

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang