Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Selling roasted corn from small sheds in Khalangzi along the Mongar-Gyalpozhing highway, farmers of Chali in Mongar are doing brisk business.

Although seasonal, farmers said the replication of what residents along Thimphu-Wangduphodrang highway do is helping them make good income.

They earn Nu 3,000 to 5,000 a day from selling the maize products.

According to the villagers, 13 households grew maize earlier this year in about 10 acres of field to do the business.

While seven households chose to sell roasted corn and flattened maize from the roadside, others flattened the maize in their homes and sold it at Gangola market shed.

A roadside vendor, Dorjila, said his maize from two acres of the field brought him a good income.

He shifted to maize business after his large scale watermelon production that fetched him Nu 100,000 to 150,000 a year didn’t do well after two years of success.

Dorjila said he got the idea from businesses in Thinleygang area where roasted maize was sold like hot cakes when he was driving taxi on the east-west highway a couple of years ago.

Another vendor, who sold roasted corn for two weeks and 400 packets of flattened maize this season, said the income was good.

She is planning to cultivate maize in a larger area of field next year.

A cob of corn fetches Nu 25 while a packet of flattened maize fetches Nu 300.

Vendors said buyers come from Mongar and Gyalpozhing in the weekends.

They said passengers of public transport buses and other passersby also bought their product.

Farmers said it also creates good opportunities for women empowerment as many women are into the business.

“Most of the roadside vendors are women and the work and we can easily contribute to family income generation,” a vendor, Tshering Choden, said.

Dorjila said he also employed more than 10 women for two days.

While farmers of Chali plan to increase the cultivation the next season, they are worried if their products would be allowed to sell like this time as officials from the Department of Roads mandated them to come up with standard sheds and maintain the required distance from the highway.

Farmers said they usually sell vegetables, fruits and flattened maize from market sheds of Gangola and Mongar and would be using the highway during the maize season only.

‘They want us to come up with standard sheds like farmers in Thrindangbi area but ours is only seasonal,” Dorjila said. “Who can afford to build a shed that cost more than 100,000 to be used for just about a month.”

Meanwhile, farmers of Chali are also reputed as the largest producers of seasonal fruits and vegetables in Mongar.

Khalangzi, about three kilometres away from Kurizampa towards Mongar is a warm place and one of the maize intensification sites of Mongar dzongkhag and ARDC Wengkhar in partnership with CARLEP-IFAD.