While Sarpang dzongkhag officials are still compiling the amount gewogs, farmers and other entities earned from selling their products in the two-days Foothills Festival, records indicate that farmers have earned more than Nu 5.4M.

According to the budget officer, Kinga Wangmo, Chudzom gewog recorded the highest sale of gewog products. Farmers from the gewog reportedly earned more than Nu 700,000.

Samtenling gewog reported the second highest sale of more than Nu 600,000 and Singye gewog of more than Nu 500,000. The gewogs brought varieties of products, some as high as 52.

The amount is, however, subject to change as the dzongkhag officials are still compiling it. Some officials say most of farmers do not report the amount earned correctly.

Figures dzongkhag officials compiled indicate that horticulture, cooperatives and other stall owners earned about Nu 909,770.

In the dzongkhag’s competition for the gewogs based on product diversity, quantity, quality, presentation, sale value and food stall, Samteling gewog was graded first with Chudzom in the second position and Chuzergang in the third position.

Sarpang dzongdag, Karma Galay, said the festival achieved the intended purpose, as it brought the people together. “Most villagers sold their products. More than the fund generated, people enjoyed the festival.”

He said rural people performed as if they are in their villages, which is exactly what the dzongkhag administration wanted. “The people enjoyed the sports activities. We want to promote Gelephu as a sports destination.”

The dzongdag said there are, however, many rooms for improvement and that they hope to do better next year.

He said the platform is also giving room for innovation. “People even sold dry shevon, which was never heard before.”

The dzongkhag spent Nu 1 million (M) to organise the event, of which Nu 200,000 was provided by Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). Others were sponsored by corporations and other offices.

Meanwhile, many villagers said they are thankful to the dzongkhag administration for organising the event.

Tshering Lhamo from Umling, who sold winter vegetables and ginger, banana and papaya candies and pickles, said she sold almost 60 percent of her products. “Such an initiative from the dzongkhag helps farmers like us to sell our products.”

Lhadon, 35, from Chuzergang said she usually carried her vegetable produces and sells in the village but this time, she sold most of the produces at the festival.

She earns Nu 70,000 to 80,000 every winter from the vegetables and spend it on her children’s school expenditure.

Chuzergang gewog administrative officer, Yonten Dorji, said farmers from the gewog earned more than Nu 100,000 from selling the Khamtey rice alone. “We also got many orders for the rice.”

Dekiling GAO, Kinley Norbu said although the gewog could not sell livestock products because of food and mouth disease, the gewog earned about more than Nu 435,000.

He said the greatest achievement of the festival was establishing a network between farmers and vendors, as vendors bought all the vegetable farmers brought for sale.

Meanwhile, many people who are in Gelephu to receive the Nyingma Gyubum oral transmission also took part in the Foothills Festival at lunch breaks and evenings. They said they were surprised by the cultural vibrancy the festival showcased.

Wangmo, 61, from Wangduephodrang said she didn’t expect Sarpang to have so many people who could perform traditional songs. “People were performing traditional songs like in our villages and that is exactly what we wanted.”

She said she appreciated the Lhotsham dancers, who exhibited many indigenous dances and elderly citizens who took part in the walkathons and other activities.

Tashi Dema| Sarpang