Agriculture: Following an awareness programme, residents of Panbang plan to give vegetable cultivation another shot.

For instance, the Marangduth Young Guys, a vegetable growing group formed by school dropouts, failed in their first attempt.

“May be we got the timing wrong,” Marangduth Young Guys member Tashi Wangchuk said. He added that the farming methods agriculture officials provided during the awareness programme also differed from the ones the group adopted.

Other farmers of Panbang also attributed unsuccessful vegetable cultivation to climatic factors such as heat from the soil, heavy rains in the summer or shortage of water in some places. According to some farmers vegetables started rotting after growing up to some extent from excessive rain.

But for a farmer from Sonamthang, Rinchen Zumden who grew chilli, cabbage and spinach, the situation was the other way round. The chilli she planted could not grow well from water scarcity in the village. Therefore, she could not grow anything to sell in the market.

But all this could change after the recent awareness programme on vegetable gardening.

An agriculture official told residents that while villagers currently buy vegetables from Panbang town, it is now time for the villagers to make the business community come to the villages for vegetables.

Tingtibi’s research and development officer in-charge, Yeshey Dorji, said people should grow enough for self-consumption even if they cannot for sale. “Panbang is a subtropical zone favourable for growing a number of vegetables,” Yeshey Dorji said.

He also told farmers that some vegetables could be grown thrice a year in Panbang. This means people in Panbang have an opportunity to make two times more income from vegetables compared to those living in higher altitudes in the dzongkhag. “Bitter gourd, okra and chilies are some of the water and heat resistant vegetables you should try,” he said.

“People should focus on these vegetables if other vegetables cannot be grown.” According to officials from the research and development sub-centre no one is landless like before and it is time the land is utilised.

Eating only potato is leading to nutrition deficiency especially among the children, said officials.

“People should understand that our body requires nutrition. Eating only one vegetable cannot supplement each diet requirement,” another official from the sub-centre said.

Officials also pointed out the importance to first understand soil conditions to adopt suitable methods.

For instance, plastic houses could not be used in Panbang because the place is already too hot. Such obstacles could be overcome by using net houses instead, which permeates air and rain.

Nima Wangdi | Panbang