Neten Dorji | Trashigang

At least three metric tonnes of Urka Bangala, the famous chilli from Trashiyangtse have been supplied to Thimphu, Gelephu, and Samdrupjongkhar after the border was sealed in March.

The farmers of Bumdeling are still supplying about 3,000 kg of Urka Bangala to Samdrupjongkhar.

The dzongkhag administration of Trashiyangtse and the Agriculture Marketing and Cooperative’s regional office (RAMCO) in Mongar facilitate the farmers to sell the surplus chillies and other farm produce.

“Since it is time to dry them, farmers don’t sell chillies much,” said Ugyen Tshering, an agriculture extension officer of Bumdeling. “In case of the second lockdown, we will continue to supply chillies to other dzongkhags.”

He said the surplus chillies were supplied to other dzongkhags according on demand.

About three more metric tonnes of chillies are expected to be harvested from three farmers’ groups.

Having sold about 3,000 kg of chilies already, Urka Bangala group in Bamdir village is still harvesting the chillies. Beginning early July, the chilli harvest continues until September.

“We have earned more than Nu 50,000,” said Uden wangmo, a member of Urka Bangala group.

She said that most of the farmers were happy they could sell chillies from their doorsteps. “It encourages farmers like us to work more,” she said. “ It would help us grow more chillies.”

The number of chilli growers in Trashiyangtse has increased. During peak season the price of chilli drops to Nu 60 per kg. Sometimes it drops to Nu 35 per kg.

“The problem is that we don’t get good price. There is also lack of proper market,” said one of the farmers from Bumdeling.

Farmers make at least Nu 40,000 by selling both fresh and dried chillies.  “I don’t take chillies to the weekend market. Mostly I sell to the people who come here to buy at a lower price,” said a villager from Womanang.

Karma Kinzang Wangmo has made about Nu 72,000. She has also dried the chilies to make Urka Bangala pickle.

She said that due to lockdown, the farmers could not sell much as chillies were damaged in the fields.

Villagers said that it was difficult to dry Urka Bangala, as it is fleshy.