When Dechen Choden, 30, grew ginger on her 50 decimal land in Umling, Sarpang, she thought she would earn a good income.
But when she harvested, she could get the yield from 20 decimal land. “The ginger rotted in the field.”
She was more disappointed when she auctioned the produce at the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) auction yard on December 7 as her 150kg of ginger fetched only Nu 3,375. “A kg fetched only Nu 22.5”.
She said that the price she fetched was not worth the effort and labour she put in to grow the rhizome.
Dechen is not alone.
Many farmers in Sershong say the rotting disease affected their cash crop. They say they could not report to agriculture officials, as the disease occurred when it was harvest time.
Dechen said agriculture officials provided them pesticides when they reported the matter a few years ago.
A farmer, Zangmo said she fetched Nu 22 a kg. “This is a low price. I thought I would fetch Nu 40 to 50 a kg.”
Zangmo brought 200kg of ginger for sale. “The price is demotivating farmers.” She said she would not cultivate ginger in the next season. “I did not keep any seeds too.”
She said other farmers might also give up growing ginger.
Another farmer, Rinchen Lehtro, from Gelephu brought the maximum quantity of ginger for auctioning.
He said he grew ginger on his 2.4 acre land and harvested 400kg. “Besides vegetables such as beans, cabbage, radish and spinach, ginger is the main source of cash income for my family.”
He said the price was better last year, as he fetched Nu 30 a kg.
The highest price ginger fetched this year at the auction is Nu 23 a kilogram. In the vegetable market, it is sold for Nu 50 and 60 a kg.
Indian vendors who bid at the auction yard buy almost all of the ginger grown by Bhutanese farmers. A bidder said the price of ginger is low because the Indian market is already flooded with ginger.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu