Fresh vegetables supplied to Thimphu, Chukha and Samtse as of yesterday

Phub Dem | Paro

There is a nationwide lockdown, but farmers in Paro are busy. They are harvesting vegetables, packing and transporting them.

With many dzongkhags running out of fresh vegetables and Paro becoming the summer vegetable capital, farmers have no time to waste or stay home. It has been three days since Paro dzongkhag’s agriculture officials began collecting vegetables from the gewogs.

After receiving orders from the dzongkhag agriculture office, gups communicate with farmers through social media and inform them to harvest vegetables and keep it ready for pick up. Encouraging every farmer to participate in marketing their produce, Lungnyi gup Jamtsho asked members of his gewogs to contribute five sacks of chillies each.

Dzongkhag agriculture team collecting chillies from Lungnyi gewog yesterday

Dzongkhag agriculture team collecting chillies from Lungnyi gewog yesterday

He said that as a majority of the households in his gewog grow chillies, it was essential to set the limit. Besides, to avoid overcrowding, the gup identified five collection points. Only one representative from each household is allowed to drop and register their produce.

With export restricted because of the lockdown, dzongkhag officials witnessed a massive surplus in vegetable production. The dzongkhag supplied the surplus vegetables to the Centenary Farmers’ Market in Thimphu, Food Corporation of Bhutan’s depot in Damchu, and Chukha and Samtse dzongkhags as of yesterday.

The dzongkhag has supplied 18.3 metric tonnes (MT) of chillies and 45.9MT of cabbages to the CFM and FCB depot alone. Other than chillies, Paro also supplies beans, cauliflower, broccoli, brinjal, radish and carrots.

Without human resources and restrictions from the lockdown, the dzongkhag agriculture team faced challenges in carry out the door-to-door collection service. Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Tandin said the collection team worked late into the night when they had to unload the vegetables at the depots.

Meanwhile, the price of vegetables is reasonable, according to farmers. Chencho Pem from Shomu has been harvesting chillies for the last two days. Along with her son who recently completed his graduation, she has stacked 30 sacks of chillies on the roadside. The collection truck will collect the chillies today.

Farmers are paid Nu 100 per kilogramme of chillies, which according to Chencho Pem and other farmers, was a fair price. Although the chillies from Paro fetched good money this year, she said that the market was short-lived because of the lockdown. “If lockdown extends, the chillies will rot. But the dzongkhag administration saved us.”