Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Inspired by their harvest last year, Litishong farmers’ group in Tsakaling gewog, Mongar, started cultivating winter chilli.

The group with 17 members from Tormashong village is currently preparing to transplant chilli in 10 acres of land this year with nursery raised both in the poly tunnel as well as in the open field.

The nursery was raised in the first week of this month and around 15 percent of the seedlings are ready to transplant.

Members of the group said they are expecting to harvest their first off-season winter chilli yield by January and February next year.

The agriculture research and development centre (ARDC) in Wengkhar supported the group with 160 packets of mixed chilli seeds and five rolls each of mulching and poly plastic to the members.

The winter chilli cultivation is an annual collaborative work plan between the dzongkhag and ARDC. Gewog agriculture extension officials provide the technical support.

The gewog agriculture extension supervisor, Sonam Dekar, said about 10 metric tonnes of chilli would come to the market if the programme becomes successful.

Last year, the members leased land belonging to other villagers and planted winter chilli and other vegetables in about seven acres of land and sold more than three metric tonnes of hybrid chilli and over a tonne of mixed vegetables.

They extended the area to 10 acres this year and also used black mulching plastic to maintain temperature to boost swift harvest.

Sonam Dekar said the other advantages of mulching are disease and weed control and labour force reduction.

Edited by Tashi Dema