A good season thus far, say farmers

Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

At this time of the year, farmers of Yallang, Ramjar and Khamdang gewog in Trashiyangtse feel their legs go lighter when they are out in the field working.

Rain, sun or wind, farmers are busy in the chilli fields as this is one season where they can mint money. The first green chillies to hit the market come from these places and farmers earn between Nu 100,000 and 150,000.

This year, most farmers are expecting even better income. Kingzang Lhachi, has already made about Nu 100,000 from her first harvest. She could only make Nu 70,000 last year. “I am happy, my hard work paid off,” she said. “I am expecting more this time, as the price is good. Our only worry is insects affecting our chilli.”

As the government encourages farmers and give more importance to agriculture, she said more farmers are growing chilli. “In the past, we cultivate only for self-consumption but it has become our cash cow.”

Choden, 42, from Phuyang said her village was the first to cultivate chilli. “More and more people are growing chilli knowing the income it brings,” she said.

Today, more than 45 households from Yallang gewog are involved in cultivating chilli.

On the complaints on the price of chillies, Tshering Duba of Phuyang village said people in towns will understand only if they come and work in the fields. Chilli is sold at Nu 300 a kg, but the price doubles as it reaches the farmers’ market in Thimphu.

Given the demand for local chillies, about 14 farmers tried cultivating on a commercial scale at Namla in Khamdang. Farmers said they need not worry about the market for their first chilli harvest, as vendors come to their felid to buy it. 

It was learnt that people of Khamdang also tried cultivating on a large scale at Namla, about two hours walk from Doksum town.

According to dzongkhag agriculture officials, the total production from Wangringmo in Phuyang village that produces the most chillies was 31.29 metric tonnes (MT) in 2019. However, dzongkhag agriculture officials expects 37.8 MT this season.

Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer Kuenzang Peldon said that to encourage farmers in agriculture production, the dzongkhag had been increasing the farm gate price of chilli. “With support from agencies, we have also provided both irrigation and drinking water to  Wangringmo and Bayphushot villages.”

With fund from the Government of India, the dzongkhag is constructing reservoir tanks to solve the problem of water shortage in Bayphushot. “We train farmers in farm management, diseases control and other related farming training to farmers every year,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, the price of green chilli has reduced to Nu 250 per kg from Nu 350 per kg at Doksum town.

Farmers would have to complete the harvest by June to start paddy cultivation.