Rajesh Rai | Samtse

Covid-19 has renewed economic opportunities for farmers in Samtse.

Farmer Godhak Singh Ghalley, 35, of Lamithang village has been into chilli business for the last three years but he said this year was the best, both in terms of harvest and price.

He claimed he is taking the chilli scarcity seriously and wanted to supply sufficient chillies for people.

Chillies are abundant in Godhak’s garden. His family receives inquiry calls from customers time and again.

The class nine drop out said Covid-19 has taken his chilli farming to a new level of success.

As of now, Godhak has sold more than 200kg of chillies. He is expecting to sell another 200kg in the next harvest.

Many people from the town visited Godhak’s house and plucked the chillies on their own.

He, however, is surprised with people’s behavior.

On March 29, he lost about 10kg of chilies in the crowd. People at the Sunday market stole it from his stall.

“There was so much rush for chillies,” he said, adding that even vegetable vendors from Phuentsholing had come to buy the green chillies.

The chillies that were sold at Nu 200 a kg before are now fetching Nu 250 and Nu 300 these days in Samtse.

Meanwhile, most of the people in Samtse are also going local and organic. Local vegetable sales have increased.

Nowraj Rai, 27, has a roadside vegetable stall at Diphujhora and said sales have increased by more than 40 percent. Farmers nearby bring organic vegetables and keep at his stall for sale.

“Except for onion, all vegetables in my stall are organic,” he said.

Nowraj had come home from Qatar in January.

He said selling organic vegetables is lucrative these days. “Farmers are finally getting paid for their hard work.”

The class 10 graduate said this trend of going local and organic kept the money within the country. “It is also healthy for people.”

Barun Chhetri, 45, at Bhimtar is also planning to grow chilli in large scale. He has about 10,000 chilli saplings ready for plantation whenever favourable.

In his three acres of farmland, Barun Chhetri has grown four types of chillies. He is currently waiting to harvest the Indian chillies. “I don’t take it to the Sunday market as I sell it on the roadside.”

Meanwhile, Godhak said while earning some income, he also got satisfaction to be contributing in his own ways to the country.

“Chilies in my garden are organic and healthy compared to the ones from across the border,” he said.

Recently, he also donated about 10kg of chillies to the quarantine centres in Samtse. Godhak and his father are already working towards increasing the farmland to more than three acres. They are also planning to grow different vegetables.