Cooperatives: It might sound like counting the chickens before the eggs hatch, but a farmers’ vegetable group in Samdrupcholing dungkhag is expecting a bumper harvest this year from the onions they planted recently.

Despite two seasons of crop failure, the group is not giving up. Capitalizing on the frequent price inflation of onion the group from Pemathang gewog decided to cultivate onion. That was two years ago when the price in the Indian market shot up almost Rs 100 a kilogram in the Indian border town and more than Nu 100 in Bhutan.

They began cultivating on about 50-decimal land to provide Samdrupcholing people cheaper onion and generate income. The crop failed.

They could harvest only half of what they cultivated. The 10 members consumed most of it and the rest were sold in the gewog for Nu 30 per kg. Each member took home about 40 kilograms.

This time, the group planted onion seeds worth Nu 2,500 on one acre of dry land with the help from gewog’s RNR officials. The first two years, they planted on wetland.

The group’s chairman Sangay Wangdi, said, despite the poor returns in the past, it was evident that most consumers preferred the local onion over imported ones. “That is why we haven’t given up hope,” Sangay Wangdi said.

He said with the onion price still high, costing between Nu 80 to 120 in Indian market today, there is still an opportunity for a good profit.

“This can also help keep our group active since vegetable productions have failed earlier,” he said. The group plans to buy a power tiller from the income.

“As there is only one power tiller in the gewog, not all can avail the service,” he said. The group plans hire it out to other villagers.

For now, the members are busy taking care of their onion seeds planted about a week ago.

Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupcholing