Phub Dem | Paro
Three months ago, a group consisting of eight tourist guides ventured into organic agriculture. Today the group is successfully harvesting their hard work.
The new farmers have come a long way.
Despite struggles, the group has started supplying vegetables such as peas, beans, carrot and radish to tourism stimulus project in Taktsang and in quarantine centres in Paro.
Tshering Paldon, a senior guide with Druk Asia and the coordinator of the group, said that the tourism ecosystem was interlinked and the bond was further strengthened due to the pandemic.
She said that the group supplied vegetables to hotels and other guide groups at reasonable rates. “The tourism industry, like hotels and projects always come forward to help us and buy veggies from us.”
Tshering Paldon said that there was enough demand.
To broaden the income base, the group is planning to grow winter crops and medicinal plants.
The main challenges facing the organic farmers are low price of the vegetables.
For instance, a kilogram of local radish costs Nu 50 in the vegetable market. But the vegetable vendors buy the radish at Nu 15 from the farmers.
“I was shocked when a vendor said that Nu 20 per kilogram has to be their profit,” said Tshering Paldon.
Another guide, Nima Dorji, said that the producer and consumer were at the losing end. “The vegetables are expensive when we buy, but it is cheap when we sell.”
Tshering Choki Wangchuk, a freelance guide said, it was all hard work and no profit. “Organic farming is expensive.”
Shortage of irrigation water is another problem.
Tshering Choki Wangchuk said that the team had to apply for a loan from the National Cottage and Small Industry bank to purchase a water pump.