Chimi Dema | Tsirang  

With more than 250 farmers from five gewogs growing chilli on about 125 acres, Dagana is expected to produce about 165 metric tonnes (MT) of green chilli this winter.

While the gewogs have been producing about 700kg of chilli fortnightly, major production is expected beginning next month.

Agriculture officials said that farmers couldn’t produce more chillies this time around as seedlings planted and initial transplantation in September and October, last year were damaged by the prolonged monsoon.

Dagana Assistant Agriculture Officer Kinley Namgay said, “Our initial expectation was to produce 900kgs a week. But we couldn’t.”

He said that each gewog used to produce about 200kg of chillies a week in previous years.

The dzongkhag has supplied over 1.5MT of chillies to Thimphu since the nationwide lockdown on December 23. Dagana would begin chilli supply to Paro this week.

The produce from high risk areas of Karmling, Lhamoidzingkha and Nichula under Lhamoidzingkha drungkhag is being transshipped through Dagapela to the other parts of the dzongkhag and Thimphu.

About 265kg of chillies harvested from Samarchhu chiwog in Tsendagang gewog were distributed in the local market in the dzongkhag yesterday. 

Tsirang has been able to produce only about 200kg of chillies this winter.

Assistant Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Sonam said that with winter cold affecting fruiting and resulting in physiological disorder in plants, chilli production suffered. “We are expecting more production by end of this month or early February.”

Tsirang has grown winter chillies on more than 50 acres in seven gewogs. Currently, Sergithang and Barshong gewogs are the major producers.

Sergithang-based farmer, Sanman Subba said that he used to sell at least 1.5MT of chillies every winter. “However, this winter, I’d be able to produce only a few hundred kgs as most of the seedlings were damaged by a heavy monsoon,” he said.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of chilli shortages in local markets.

The Damphu vegetable market has also run short of green chillies as of last Friday. Vendors said that it was difficult to get the produce.

Although the dzongkhag agriculture sector has been trying to meet the local demand in the dzongkhag first, officials said that the production has dropped at the source these days.

Sonam said that farmers are able to sell other vegetables to vendors only if they supply chillies.

Agriculture officials said that chilli shortages in the market could also be due to poor supply from other southern dzongkhags.

A resident in Wangdue said that she couldn’t get chillies even after placing orders at source in Tsirang. “The produce exhausted even before I could go to collect.”