Farmers of Nichula gewog of Lhamoizingkha, Dagana, are hopeful that they will be able to harvest the winter chillies they grew for the second time.

Their first attempt failed after the first staggered seed did not grow well.

Nichula gewog agriculture officer, Jambay Gyeltshen, said the first cultivation in September 2017 did not work. “The nurseries were planted from the August.

He, however, said that plantation from nurseries later than September is working.

According to the gewog agriculture officer, it was the temperature and rainfall that spoiled the first plantation.

The Department of Agriculture (DoA) had identified eight acres of land to grow chillies this winter. “But after the field visits, we found out we will be able to harvest from four acres.”

Meanwhile, a university graduate, Rajesh Mongar, is among the few farmers cultivating chilli in the remote gewog.

He said that he did not give up although elephants destroyed the chillies he planted in September last year.

Today, Rajesh Mongar from Gangtokha village in Nichula has planted chillies in the one-acre land. “The plants are doing great.”

As chilli nurseries are initiated in September, most Nichula farmers, especially in Gangtokha, lose crops to elephants and wild boars. Elephants raid paddy, millet, and maize time and again throughout the nights.

Rajesh Mongar said that farmers receive support from gewog agriculture office for materials and technical problems. “Since the gewog falls under the Phibsoo wildlife sanctuary, something needs to be done to control the human-wildlife conflict.”

But the situation is different for farmers in Bichgaon. They say the cultivation was better from the first plantation.

A farmer, Sumitra Basnet, who planted chillies in 50 decimals land, said the chillies planted in the second attempt are not as good as the first. “The chillies are still growing.”

She said agriculture office has provided pipes and mortar to fetch water.

She is hopeful that more people would cultivate next year.

The gewog agriculture officer said they learnt many lessons from this year’s plantation. “Next year, it should be better.”

Jambay Gyeltshen said that farmers have learned to install plastic mulching and using farm technologies more effectively. “DoA has arranged the market and the prices and farmers need not worry.”

Nimtola chillies are expected to hit the market by mid-January and early February.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing