Cooperatives and groups help farmers sell their produce during lockdown

Nima  | Gelephu

Farming in Chhudzom Gewog is changing with the start of commerical farming group, Chudzom Nazhoen Detshen early this year.

However, having to travel long distance on a poor road conditions that are often cut off during summer is the challenge facing the group and the gewog.

Agriculture extension officer, Thukten Chophel, said limited access to market and the poor road condition resulted in higher transportation cost.

“After the group was formed, they took care of marketing and this encouraged other farmers to grow vegetables on a large-scale,” he said.

The group, which was formed early this year by 13 school dropouts, supplied six bolero pick up truckloads of vegetable and dairy products during the lockdown.

Vegetable production during summer in many parts of Sarpang drops and vendors authorised to deliver vegetables in Gelephu had to buy over 18 metric tonnes of vegetables, mostly from Wangdue so far.

Garjaman Rai, chairperson of the group said the gewog has high scope for all-season vegetable production.

“However, it’s challenging when travelling for marketing. We have to travel a long distance towards Gelephu and road conditions are not so good. Transportation cost increases this way,” he said.

The group also moves door-to-door to collect vegetable and livestock products that helped farmers of the gewog sell easily during the lockdown.

Thukten Chophel said the group was formed mainly for marketing the farm produce. “They have benefited the farmers in the villages and the consumer at Gelephu alike,” he said.

He added that the farmers are benefited as they could manage to sell their products of any quantity today. “The youths are engaged and self-employed,” said the official.

Kinzang Dhendup, an authorised vendor from Gelephu said the continued supply of vegetables from within the country during the lockdown was a good sign. “This showed that we could be self-sufficient. We were dependent on imported products so far,” he said.

He added that some farmers who took up commercial farming a few months before the pandemic could produce by this time. “These are signs that we can be independent should we start working,” he said.

Chhudzom is the only gewog without a blacktopped gewog centre road in Sarpang today.

Meanwhile, Sarpang layer cooperative had started collecting eggs from the poultry farm owners who were not the member of the cooperative since the nationwide lockdown.

The cooperative collected over 1,500 cartons of eggs and were sold in Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, and Gelephu. They also distributed feeds to the farmers today.

Chairman of the cooperative, Nima Lama said with the movements restricted during the lockdown, the farm owners could have incurred loss. “Eggs get damaged within two or three weeks,” he said.

The cooperative collected eggs from eight gewogs in Sarpang. There are only 20 members in the cooperative and over 80 non-members.

Gakiling gup, Nim Dorji said the cooperative started to collect eggs from the farmers who were not registered with the cooperative as they faced marketing problems during the lockdown.