With the nearest road head almost three hours walk away, Malbasey is one of the furthest and remotest villages in Tsirang.

The lack of a motorable road to the village does not deter farmers from growing vegetables of all varieties. Farmers claim their vegetable is organic and that they do not even use the basic fertilisers like urea and suphala.

Although most farmers in Patshaling gewog grow organic vegetables for commercial purpose, Patshaling Maed and Toed and Chuzomsa grow in large quantity.

The former gewog agriculture extension officer Karma Chuki is the only trained official in growing organic vegetable in Tsirang. She returned from Japan after completing her 10-month training.

She said that besides hybrid seeds like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, farmers of Patshaling use organic methods to grow vegetables. “Almost all farmers in the gewog are trained in growing organic, making manure, compost and using biodigester. They use cow urine as insecticides.”

Karma Chuki said farmers used to come to her asking for urea and suphula but she sent them back with local methods to treat pests.

She said it has now been years since the people of the gewog asked for fertilisers and the gewog asked the dzongkhag.

Patshaling has three bio-digesters, a mechanical tank that is filled with organic materials, which when decomposed, could be used as fertilisers. The farmers use it in turns to decompose their manure.

Patshaling gewog began the mission of organic Tsirang. The plan is now extending to the whole dzongkhag and is expected to boost farmers as well improve the market.

But the dzongkhag assistant agriculture officer, Sonam, said that vegetables grown in Patshaling are not certified as organic. “It can rather be called as ‘natural grown’.”

He said making the whole of Tsirang an organic vegetable growing dzongkhag is a long-term process and it has to be achieved phase wise.

Sonam said they are training the farmers on the good side of producing organic farming. “We also explain them the side effects of chemicals.”

He said that farmers do not use these synthesised chemical fertilisers in vegetables. “They use it on paddy for vegetative growing and better productivity.”

Meanwhile, a villager, Ash Bahadur Subba, who began growing vegetables for commercial purpose a few years ago, said he earned about Nu 50,000 this year. “The income was double last year as I couldn’t work much this year because of health reasons,” he said.

He said people in the locality grew organic vegetables after the gewog agriculture officials encouraged them. “We do not even feed our cattle with imported feeds.”

Ash Bahadhur who is also the chairman of the farmer’s group, said growing organic vegetable is not difficult but it is less productive.

He said transportation is their only problem in growing their vegetables in large scale.

The chairman said people have to transport their farm products on horses to reach the nearest road head. “Vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli get damaged on the way and people are reluctant to buy,” he said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang