After much struggle, farmer Kuenzang Gyeltshen from Gangzor Maed in Tsendagang, Dagana, sold his turmeric recently.

He had sold about 1,400kg of turmeric at Nu 37 a kg to Daga Adding Masala Unit (DAMU), a local processing unit in Dagapela.

Without an assured market, the farmer stored and cured the produce for more than four months since he harvested it in February.

Kuenzang Gyeltshen said growing turmeric incurred him a loss of about Nu 50,000. “I’ve invested Nu 100,000 to grow turmeric in an acre of land.”

Another farmer who sold about 3,800kg invested around Nu 150,000 in turmeric cultivation.

Farmers said that the return from turmeric couldn’t even cover their investment.

Dagana agriculture sector, with support from the National Organic Flagship Programme (NOFP), initiated the programme to grow organic ginger and turmeric as focused crops in Tsendagang and Tsangkha gewogs last year.

The initiative was taken in an effort to encourage farmers to establish a productive organic farming system and cultivate in their fallow lands.

As part of 2019-2020 fiscal year activity, the sector focused to grow turmeric in nine and half-acre land in the two gewogs to produce about 28 metric tonnes (MT) of the spice.

Tsendagang gewog has sold more than 13MT of turmeric while Tsangkha has sold about 10MT so far.

Farmers said that although an exporter initially agreed to buy the produce at Nu 45 to Nu 50 a  kg, they did not. “We were asked to harvest within a week but they did not come to buy,” a farmer said.

Meanwhile, DAMU manufactures turmeric powder for both domestic and international markets.

The owner of DAMU, Narath Koirala, said he initiated the powder processing to help farmers who were struggling to sell their produce without a market.

“I’m currently exploring markets, both domestic and international,” he said.

DAMU has so far bought about 15MT of turmeric and is planning to buy remaining produce in the dzongkhag.

By Chimi Dema | Dagana

Edited by Tashi Dema