Farmers of Chudzom gewog in Sarpang are learning the basic and rightful implementation of the technique of organic farming.

Chudzom is one of the most remote gewogs in Sarpang, where most of the farmers have been emphasising on cardamom as the main cash crop. Many farmers have even converted their kitchen garden into cardamom orchard.

The trend is now changing. Farmers have begun growing vegetables for personal consumption and for sale.

In the last one year, farmers have started growing vegetables in large scale.

Farmer Bishnu Lal Bhandari depended on imported vegetables for a long time and spent at least Nu 20,000 a year. He said he bought it from across the border in Gelephu.

Encouraged by the gewog agriculture officials and the dzongkhag agriculture sector, Bishnu Lal Bhandari last year grew and sold vegetables worth Nu 30,000.

“That was my first earning from vegetables. I earned more than I used to spend on vegetables in the past,” he said.

The recent farmers’ training on basics of organic farming, he said has let him learn techniques on doing better farming.

An aspect that caught his attention during the training was the spraying of chemicals, bought from across the border, on the weed in his farm. “We used it to kill weeds without realising it also made our land infertile,” he said.

Farmers in Chudzom said they never used chemical fertilisers or pesticides in the crops or vegetables, but used chemicals to get rid of paddy weed and bushes around.

Another farmer, Goray Sanu Rai, 42, said the training taught him the process of preparing pesticides and insecticides using local materials such as cow dung, cow urine, garlic and other materials. “These are new concepts for us,” he said.

He recently sold vegetables worth Nu 15,000.

He said there isn’t a proper market for their produce. Whatever they can produce is sold to the nearby school mess and staff.

However, with the training that also introduced farmers to certification and registration of organic produce, farmers have a better opportunity.

At least 137 farmers participated in the two-day training.

National Organic Programme GEF-LDCF (Global Environment Facility-Least Developed Country Fund) focal, Pema Zangmo, said that as part of the organic farming programme two gewogs of Chudzom and Jigmechholing in Sarpang are identified.

She said following the training on basic techniques of organic farming, farmers would be certified and registered as organic farmers if they are interested.

“Once certified and branded as organic, farm produce will have a better market,” she said.

Nirmala Pokhrel  | Tsirang