Kelzang Wangchuk | Pemathang

After years of poor harvests, Raling vegetable group in Pemathang gewog, Samdrupjongkhar is hoping to accomplish some success this year.

They are banking on the restrictions imposed on import of vegetables following the border closure in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

The dzongkhag and gewog administrations have helped them get state land for commercial farming. They got about 20 acres of state land this year and cultivated various vegetables in more than two acres, while they had cultivated vegetables in about an acre before. 

The chairperson of the group, Tashi Dendup said that this has helped them to grow more.

“We could not grow anything as we didn’t have land. Now we don’t have to pay for the land.”

The chairman said although the group had about 20 acres of state land, they cultivated chilli, Spinach, and tomato, among others in more than an acre last month. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Pemathang lower secondary school to supply vegetables once the school re-opens,” he said.

The group has planted chilli and vegetables and the members are hopeful they can export the products.

Tashi Dendup said although the group started the chilli and vegetable cultivation since 2017, but it was not successful.

He said that the dzongkhag agriculture office provided the plastic for greenhouse, seeds and technical inputs, among others in April this year.

The group collects Nu 100 a day if any member does not turn up to work. “This is to contribute equal labour in the farming,” Tashi Dendup said. The group has about 19 members.

A group member, Sangay, said the agriculture officials visited the site and trained the members on how to grow the vegetables.

“We now realised that the products were unsuccessful earlier because we didn’t follow the farming procedures.”

Water shortage is another problem.

Another member, Sonam Choden, 29, said that they reported the issues to the gewog administration.

“The gewog officials said that they had allocated the budget for irrigation, but the challenge is finding a reliable water source,” she said.

“We hope the concerned agencies would soon address the issues.”