Neten Dorji | Trashigang

Farmers of Jangphutse in Trashiyangtse have reasons to be happy with the border closure.

Before the border shut in March, they sold potatoes to Tawang, a neighbouring village across the border in Arunachal Pradesh.

A kilogram of large red potatoes fetched Nu 34.15 while the medium-sized potatoes earned Nu 22 a kg.

Last year, the farmers got  Nu 25 to Nu 30 for a kg of red potatoes for the large and medium ones.

Residents carry the potatoes on their back while some use horses.

Thukten Lhaden, a mother of four, said that she used to take potatoes five times a day till the border and transport to Tawang.

With the border closed now, villagers are transporting all potatoes to gewog centre. It is the first time that they are selling potatoes to traders at home.

“I harvested 200 bags (one bag weighs 50 kg) last year and earned well,” said Thukten Lhaden. “I expect to earn more this year as the price is better,” she added.

People do not carry all farm produce to Doksum because of the challenges they face while moving everything on their back.

A villager, Tshewang Dorji said it is easy to transport all products across the border, because of access road till border.

“With the border closed today, it is a challenge to carry potatoes on horseback downhill,” he said. “Although we face difficulties, we’re happy that the price is better than what we get from across the border.”

He said they set off early 4am from home and arrive at the gewog centre at around 9.30am. About 50 to 60 horses transported potatoes daily.

“With the border closed, we have no choice but to carry potatoes downhill, taking risks on narrow tracks,” said Dorji, a villager from Jangphu. “I am happy that the hard work of my family has been rewarded with good returns.”

He said with hardship to carry potatoes, and other farm products to Doksum, people easily export them to Tawang and sell at a cheaper rate.

Another villager, Tashi said with a fair price this year he got double what he got in Tawang last year.

“When the price is good, it encourages farmers like us to work more,” he said. “It would help us cultivate more potatoes in the future if the rate doesn’t drop.”

He said that they take around five hours to reach the gewog centre from Jangphutse carrying potatoes on their back. “Because of the hardship, most of the farmers sell agricultural produce to Tawang.”

One of the villagers said calculating all pony charges they are at a loss for carrying potatoes down to the gewog Centre. “We usually get Nu 300 per horse, but they are giving around Nu 150 as pony charges.”

Trashiyangtse dzongkhag administration and Agriculture Marketing and Co-operative regional office in Mongar facilitate farmers to sell potatoes, and farm produce.

Meanwhile, 25 metric tons of potatoes were sold and 25 more metric tonnes of potatoes were collected as of yesterday. The government agreed to bear 50 percent of pony charges while transporting potatoes from Jangphutse.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer Kuezang Peldon said last year about 90 metric tons of potatoes were produced from Jangphutse and Om ba village.

“We are supporting them like other farmers in construction of irrigation canal, seeds, machinery and among others.”