This is expected to benefit villagers who would supply to the cooperatives

Agriculture: Villagers of Martshala chiwog spend a good amount of time in their fields these days to ensure that the vegetables are growing well.

From this year on, villagers will not only sell their produce in the Samdrupcholing dungkhag market but also cater to the Martshala Central School.

The opening of the Martshala Central School is expected to benefit villagers besides students as the Sonam Yargay Tshogpa (vegetable cooperative) in their village has signed a contract with the school to supply vegetables for a year. The group has about 30 members.

A milk-processing unit that comprises 36 members will also supply vegetables to the school apart from dairy products.

Villagers have agreed to supply 18 varieties of vegetables like potatoes, cabbage, spinach and broccoli depending on the school’s demand including dairy products like milk and curd.

Martshala gewog, located about 877 metres above sea level, is known to have fertile soil where they harvest twice a year. Villagers are adamant that they can meet the school’s mess demand.

The cooperative’s secretary Meto Gyeltshen said besides income generation, the objective was also to supply organic vegetables so that the school does not have to buy vegetables from across the border.

“It was a good opportunity to market our vegetables to the school although it means double the work now,” Meto Gyeltshen said. “But this is our village’s school where our children would be studying so organic vegetables would benefit their health.”

The group secretary added that the school cannot solely rely on imported vegetables that are contaminated with chemicals, which was why the government banned some vegetables as well.

“The supply will also benefit the villagers as the price will remain consistent,” he said. “Each household earns about Nu 10,000 a month selling in the market and it is expected each will earn about Nu 20,000 from the school.”

Most villagers have also increased the size of vegetable cultivation to meet the demand. The villagers said they are eagerly waiting for the school to reopen.

Gewog agriculture extension officer Sonam Tashi said the idea was to create a link between farmers and the school where both parties would benefit.

“We’ve made sure that in case the villagers fail to meet the demand, farmers from other chiwogs can sell their produce to the group,” he said. “The school can extend the contract after the contract period.”

The extension office also distributed additional vegetable seedlings this time to grow more vegetables.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupcholing