Farm Machinery Centre (FMC) in Nichula, Dagana will grow black sesame on 70-acres land this season.

The increase comes after the success the centre saw after trying the sesame on eight acres of land in 2016 season.

Nichula is plagued with wild animal attacks. FMC opted for sesame cultivation because wild animals do not feed on the crop.

Last season, the centre cultivated 40-acres of black sesame. The yield was good, centre’s manager Pema Wangyel, said.

“The weather and soil is suitable for this crop,” the manager said, adding that FMC is the only agency to cultivate sesame in large scale.

At present, the centre is busy threshing the seeds. Pema Wangyel said that they are expecting more than 3,600kg of sesame seeds from the harvest.

After the seeds are separated, it is transported to Paro, where it is processed into oil. In 2016 season, FMC harvested 739kg sesame seeds and produced 195 litres of oil.

A litre of sesame oil costs Nu 450. Four kilogram sesame seeds produce a litre of oil.

Price is cheaper in Bhutan compared to the imported sesame oil. The marketing is done in collaboration with the department of agricultural marketing and cooperatives (DAMC).

Black sesame is planted in July and harvested in November and December.

FMC in Nichula is also encouraging the farmers to take up sesame farming. Should farmers cultivate in large scale, FMC would also buy the seeds. Sesame would also be tried in Phuentshothang and Samdrupjongkhar.

It is about two years now since FMC cleared about 200 acres of unused government lands for agricultural activities in Nichula. Paddy, maize, and mustard are also cultivated.

However, elephants caused severe damages to such crops. The electric fences that FMC installed were destroyed by lighting last year.

Farm manager Pema Wangyel said that they would install electric fences that would have the capacity to ward off the elephants this year.

Irrigation and transportation is still a major problem for FMC and farmers in Nichula. FMC and agriculture extension office are planning for better irrigation but nothing is concrete at the moment.

FMC, in the meanwhile, offers employment opportunities for locals of Nichula and Karmaling.

Rajesh Rai | Nichula