Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Gewogs in Chukha could supplement the vegetable needs of the capital city during the lockdown.

Yesterday, two metric tonnes (MT) of carrots and 400kgs of radishes from Bjachhog gewog in Chukha reached Thimphu.

Although not much in terms of quantity, this is how gewogs in Chukha are looking forward to supplying vegetables during the second nationwide lockdown.

A farmer from Bjachhog, Tonkey, alone supplied 42 bags (about 41kgs in one bag) of carrots and 13 bags (about 45kgs in a bag) of radishes. This is the second time he has harvested carrots and radishes as he grows twice a year.  Tonkey has 60 bags of turnips and some cabbages, which will be supplied soon.

The gewog’s RNR extension officer, Tshering Pem said there are 262 households in Bjachhog but only about 200 are into agriculture with 30 households taking up commercially.

She said they also supply vegetables to organisations in Chukha like DGPC, RBP, RBA and Tsimalakha town. The gewog also supplies vegetables to three schools in the locality.

Tshering Pem said the gewog had been supplying vegetables to Thimphu and Samtse in bulk during the first nationwide lockdown earlier in August.

The deputy chief dzongkhag agriculture officer, Saha Bir Rai said along with radishes and carrots from Bjachhog, Geling gewog also supplied vegetables to Thimphu yesterday. Although in small quantities, the gewog sent 18 vegetable varieties such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, ground apple, ginger and pumpkins.

Other gewogs like Dungna, Phuentsholing and Chapcha will also supply winter vegetables from today.

From Dungna, 1,100kgs of ginger, 110kgs radishes, 50kgs carrots, 300 bundles of spinach, 200 bundles of mustard leaves, 300kgs of squash (chayote), and 30kgs ground apples will be sent to Thimphu today.

From Dophulakha village of Phuentsholing gewog, 400kgs of pumpkin, 300kgs squash, 500 bundles of spinach, 70kgs of pole beans, 50kg dwarf beans, 50kgs broccoli, 100kgs cabbages, and 100kgs of ginger will reach Thimphu.

Tsimalakha will send 150 balls of cheese and some butter.

Saha Bir Rai said that based on the impact assessment, the surplus production in vegetables in Chukha has increased by 50 percent in the last three years.

“This is because we have initiated a market-driven production approach by initiating an innovative rural marketing model since 2018,” he said.

With this new model, Chukha reinvested more than Nu 14 million as of July 2020 back into the rural communities, the agriculture officer said.

Saha Bir said the dzongkhag administration has also formalised farmers’ marketing groups (FMG). There are 11 marketing groups in Chukha today. All these groups are linked to assured markets in schools with support from the dzongkhag administration.

“Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP) under the agriculture department is also actively supporting the FMGs in creating and identifying their markets for value-added productions,” he said.

“They have both financial, technical, and logistical support. So when farmers know that there is a market for their crops and vegetables through FMGs, they start producing more. That is how the surplus production increased by 50 percent.”

Saha Bir said Chukha primarily caters to Thimphu and Phuentsholing. In the last five days, Chukha has supplied 20MT of vegetables to Thimphu and Phuentsholing.

“Consumption within Chukha is also equally high,” he said. “Supplies will increase from the first and second week of January.”