Chimi Dema | Dagana
Driven by a successful trail last year and coupled with market prospects in central schools, Thuenpa Puenzhi Soenam Detsen, a farmer’s group in Drujyegang gewog, Dagana transplanted off-season cabbage on more than one-acre land in March.
Were it not for heavy and incessant monsoon rains over the past few months, farmers would be busy reaping fruits of their labour from the fields, today.
However, the fields once lush and filled with green, leafy vegetables are now dotted with rotting cabbages. Farmers are in despair.
The chairperson of the 16-member group, Tshering Tashi, said that the cabbages began rotting about a month ago.
Farmers say that chilies and beans are also rotting in the fields due to continuous rainfall.
Usually, mass cultivation of cabbage is carried out only in winter in the region. Transplantation begins towards late September and early October.
Given the bountiful harvest from their first summer trial last year, farmers said that they wanted to increase the production this year.
“The rain this year was heavy,” Tshering Tashi said.
Sangay Zangmo, a farmer, said that seedlings were raised several times for transplantation after the first one was damaged. “But the same problem occurred. Were it not for continuous rainfall, harvest would have been good this time.”
A farmer, Thinley Wangchuk, said that he lost about two metric tonnes (MT) of cabbage to rain.
Without local demand for cabbage after closure of schools, farmers said that around three metric tonnes cabbage went to waste.
In March, the farmer’s group also contributed a tonne each of cabbage and cauliflower to the government.
The farmers are now focusing on growing asparagus.
“We have been receiving seeds and technical support from the dzongkhag agriculture sector but due to heavy rains all our efforts and resources could be in vain,” Tshering Tashi said, adding that the mass cultivation of vegetable varieties would be carried out after the monsoon.
“The main problem occurred due to delay in harvest without buyers in the local market,” a farmer said.
The group today supplies vegetables to Drugyegang Central School.
“We have been supplying mostly potatoes this time as we have stored a good amount,” a farmer said, adding that the surplus was sold in the local markets.
The farmers of Sergithang in Tsirang are facing the same problem.
Farmer Sanman Subba lost watermelons to rain besides cabbages and chillies.
With the rainy period lasting for more than eight months, Dagana and Tsirang have a good deal of rainfall.