Phub Dem | Paro

Following bountiful harvest and good income amidst the pandemic last year, farmers in Naja gewog, Paro, increased vegetable production this time.

Farmers say they did not grow many vegetables fearing market instability amidst the pandemic last year but earned a good income.

A villager, Chencho Pem, said that, although a few boleros of cabbages got rotten during the first nationwide lockdown, the government helped them sell the produce after that.

She said she would grow cabbage this time as well, although she was uncertain about the market.

Following the closure of border gates due to the pandemic, cabbage growers of Naja faced challenges in selling the produce to Food Corporation of Bhutan due to excess supply.

Farmers say the government’s buy-back scheme helped them.

Passang from Gumu, who had been selling cabbages for the last two decades, said they sold cabbages according to its weight for the first time in history. “Exporters usually buy cabbages at a wholesale rate of Nu 500 a sack. But last year, we fetched Nu 26 per kg, which is around Nu 1000 for a sack.”

He said that it might be a hassle for the government, but farmers had a profitable business.

Farmers in Naja also grew potato and chili, the price of both commodities hiked significantly after the pandemic.

Passang said that potatoes sold like hot cakes from their doorsteps last year. “The vendors bought potatoes at a good price.” He said 50kg of potatoes fetched around Nu 2,500 to Nu 3,000.

Another farmer, Penjo, said that the profit from selling potatoes was the highest last year, as they saved transportation charges, food and lodging and other expenses when farmers had to spend weeks in Phuentsholing to auction it.

He said that no one left their lands fallow this time. “Good prices encourage farmers.”

Karma Tshering from Sengkha said that his potato production was the lowest, but it earned him Nu 360,000 for about 9,000 kg.  His usual annual profit from selling vegetables was Nu 50,000.

He grew potatoes in more than an acre of land hoping for a similar profit this year.

Meanwhile, Passang said fresh red chili was usually sold at Nu 1,500 for a sack but fetched Nu 3,000 last year.