There are three varieties of chillies in farmer Dawa’s garden in Dophuchen (Dorokha), Samtse.

She claims it is organic but there are no buyers.

She is not the only farmer in Dophuchen that faced difficulty in selling the farm produce.

Farmers and members of a farmers’ group, Dangreboog Ngagang Sanam Magyuel Sogjog Nyamley Tshogley (DNSMSNT), face the same fate.

Dawa, 37, said agriculture officials asked them to focus on growing chillies last year but there was no market to sell when they grew it. “We face marketing and transportation problem.”

The DNSMSNT chairman, Mani Bahadur Rai of Namchu village, said he is drying the vegetables since he could not sell it.

“It is time to harvest the chillies but our members still keep it in the garden,” he said. “With continuous rainfall, the plants would soon rot.”

The group was formed in 2012.

With cardamom productivity decreased in Dophuchen, vegetable farming has picked up. There are 93 members active in this group today.

In 2017, DNSMSNT generated Nu 292,620. About 5,257kgs of different vegetables were sold out of which 6,116kgs were spinach.

Mani Bahadur Rai said low price and market is the problem that demotivates members. “Shopkeepers pay very low.”

He said Dophuchen school bought the vegetables from the group initially but not anymore, explaining the school management later floated tenders for the supply of vegetables. “Shopkeepers got the tender and they supply imported vegetables.”

The chairman said to participate in the tender, the farmers’ group also got a license. “A shop was needed along with the license and we didn’t have a shop.”

A farmer, Budhi Maya Rai, 56, said she could not sell her ginger last year, as there was no market. “I did not do mass-cultivation this year.”

She said she just planted about 12kgs of ginger in 2017 and harvested more than 100kgs. After taking to Samtse, investing on transportation and other charges, she was able to sell just half of the produce at a low rate of Nu 18 per kg.

Although relevant government officials have been “very supportive” in the journey, people are clueless during marketing, Mani Bahadur Rai said.

He also stressed on self-sufficiency and explained the group would be able to go full-scale if there are ready buyers.

Former member and chairman of the group, Ugyen Tshering, said he harvested about 11 metric tonnes of potatoes and struggled to sell it.

“It was a bad experience,” he said. “This time I didn’t cultivate.”

Dophuchen gup Padam Bahadur Rai said farmers are enthusiastic about vegetable farming as the weather is favourable.

“We are linking the farmers with the school in 2018-2019,” he said, adding they should be able to produce as much as they can.

Meanwhile, DNSMSNT members contribute to the group every month starting from Nu 100 (minimum) to any amount possible depending on their capacity. The group currently has more than Nu 500,000 in their account.

Members are provided with loans up to Nu 20,000 for upgrading farming activities. Separate accounts are maintained along with the details of their contribution. A member is allowed to quit and take his or her share with rightful interest.

Rajesh Rai | Dorokha