Farmers in Barshong, Tsirang who are preparing their field to set the onion seedbed are expecting a good harvest this season.
This is because the farmers do not have water problem. The agriculture sector has provided them huge Sintex and pipes for winter chili but which is expected to water other crops.
Barshong farmers first began growing onion for commercial purpose about four years ago. Tarayana Foundation funded the cost for seeds and other irrigation facilities. About 15 households in Toedsang chiwog came together to form a group to grow onions on a large scale.
Man Bahadur Mongar was one of the farmers who joined the group to try growing onion. Last year, he harvested 500kg of onion from his 60 decimal land. Although he had space he could not grow more, he said.
“Growing onion is like cultivating any other vegetable but it fetches less price in the market,” he said. “The low price is discouraging despite a good production.”
Although the business went well, shortage of water remained a serious issue in the village. A single source of water drawn through irrigation channel got damaged last year and farmers could not grow other vegetables.
The group produced a total of 1,500kg of onion last year, a drop from the previous year’s 2,000kgs. The production in 2015 was also 1,500kgs. Members of the group initially grew onion together on an 80 decimal land. Later because of management issues they decided to grow on their own.
Another farmer, also Man Bahadur Mongar grows onion on about 30 decimal land. He is waiting to harvest the beans to grow onions. “I’ll sow the seeds soon,” he said.
This year Man Bahadur is expecting to harvest more onion. He says onion is a must have vegetable in the market and that instead of importing from India, people could grow it aplenty at home. “For the hard work farmers put in, the price has to improve,” he said.
The highest price he fetched so far is Nu 30 a kilogramme. After harvest, vegetables vendors who supply to Thimphu and Gelephu come to the villages to collect the produce along with other vegetables. Some farmers sell their produce to local vendors in Damphu at cheaper rates.
Meanwhile, gewog agriculture extension officer Sonam Tshering said that the gewog has not been able to focus more on onion production besides the already initiated project by Tarayana Foundation.
He, however, said, the water shortage issue will be resolved with installation of rainwater harvesting project in over 50 households in Barshong. “February to April is dry season and we hope rain water harvesting will help,” he said.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang