By Neten Dorji

Trashigang  – The agriculture ministry introduced green asparagus cultivation in the 1990s. However, except for six farmers, the majority of Gongthung farmers in Trashigang did not take up commercial production, until recently.

Today, farmers in Gongthung and Lephu villages shifted from growing potatoes to asparagus. They say growing asparagus does not involve much work and is financially rewarding.

“I grew asparagus in my two-decimal land. I could earn only Nu 10,000 from 400 bundles,” said a villager, Nidup Zangmo.

In the past, she sold a bundle at Nu 25.

Today, the price has gone up to as high as Nu 80 per bundle in the local market. One can easily earn Nu 80,000 to Nu 100,000 in a year.

She said asparagus farming is more profitable than growing potatoes.

Drubthob’s farm is nestled between the two ridges in Lephu. Among the vast maize fields, he has cultivated an acre of asparagus. He has been growing asparagus for more than six years.

“Earlier, I cultivated potatoes but what I earn from asparagus cultivation is more profitable,” says Drubthob, 51, who supplies the vegetable to hotels and restaurants in Trashigang. “My hard work is finally rewarded.”

He said that an asparagus farmer earns at least Nu 10,000 to Nu 100,000 in a year from the crop.

Nyechen, a mother of three, borrowed a few seedlings from a neighbour and grew asparagus on her land. There are no significant conflicts with the wild animals, except for the wild boars.

“The trial was a success and this encouraged me to seek further support from the gewog agriculture office and other farmers,” she says.

Asparagus cultivation is the sole family income now.

Many farmers have switched to asparagus in recent years as there is a steady demand and provides profitable income.

According to the farmers, asparagus is harvested successively for five to seven years.

The harvest is stopped for the next five months. It is expected to help recover the plants.

For Yeshi Chedrup’s family, asparagus cultivation has been a process of trial and error but has become a viable option for the family in the long-term. He is planning to expand his cultivation in the future.

“We’re gaining confidence that we can expand and are planning to plant fresh crowns in larger quantities,” he said. 

Confident in the success of asparagus growers,  many farmers are getting into asparagus-farming today.

They have started selling asparagus crowns and seeds.