The residents have so far depended on cardamom cultivation

It took farmers of Chudzom in Tsirang, who have largely depended on cardamom cultivation so far, a visit to other parts of the country to get interested in growing vegetables.

A two-week farmers’ study tour last week took them to the fields of other successful farmers growing commercial vegetables in five dzongkhags of Paro, Thimphu, Tsirang, Wangdue and Samtse.

Chudzom (Dovan) today is dominated by cardamom cultivation that residents don’t grow vegetables and instead buy imported vegetables. Most have converted their land into cardamom orchards.

One of the study tour’s participants, farmer Tek Bahadur Rai, said that although he grows vegetables, it is barely enough for family consumption. Most families, he said, rely on imported vegetables.

He said he tried growing vegetables but gave up due to pest infestation. “But improved farming technologies can address this problem,” he said. Tek Bahadur has decided to not only expand his vegetable garden but also to compost manure, which he learnt to do from the tour.

Chudzom gewog has suitable climate to grow all kinds of vegetables. The soil is fertile and water supply, adequate. After returning from the tour, Monika Acharya has decided to take up commercial vegetable farming. She discussed the plan with her family and explained them the potential and possible success of large-scale farming.

“I have just learnt and it will take sometime before I decide to go into vegetable farming,” she said.  She added that the women vegetable group in Tsirang, who grow vegetables in abundance and has become financially independent, inspired her.

Agriculture extension officer, LB Chhetri, said that in terms of vegetables farming, farmers in the gewog were behind compared to other dzongkhags. “It was mainly because of lack of market earlier when the gewog did not have a farm road connectivity,” he said. “But more farmers are interested now to take up vegetables besides cardamom cultivation.”

Chudzom is also one of the last gewogs in the dzongkhag to form farmer’s vegetable group. About nine groups were recently formed with each group having at least two members who participated in the study tour. “The gewog could lead in commercial vegetable farming in the near future given the interest farmers have shown,” the extension officer said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang