More than 100 farmers in Sergithang grow quinoa

Chimi Dema | Tsirang

A year after Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd), a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds was introduced in Sergithang, Tsirang in 2015, a farmer, Lal Bdr Sanyasi, took up cultivation of the crop on his one-acre land.

The 200 kilograms of his harvest in 2019 earned him around Nu 44,000.

The government bought back the harvest to provide an “assured” market for farmers until last year.

This convinced Lal Bdr. Sanyasi to expand his quinoa production on two-acre land from last year.

However, with the buy-back scheme coming to a halt, farmers are challenged with market access today. Lal Bdr. Sanyasi still has surplus production of 350kg.

Another farmer in the gewog, Lam Drukpa, said that they could sell what they produced in the past as the government bought back.

Market has changed.

“However, we are struggling to find the market this time,” he said. “I’ve around 80kg of quinoa meant to be sold,” Lam Drukpa said

Farmers were not able to sell their harvest last year. The gewog has surplus production of 600kg quinoa.

More than 100 farmers in the gewog are engaged in growing quinoa today.

About 60 percent of the farmers in Sergithang Maed are into quinoa production. The chiwog is identified as an organic quinoa producer. The certification is underway.

Lal Bdr. Sanyasi said that growing quinoa was beneficial and easier if the market accessibility was not a problem.

The assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer, Kinzang Chophel, said that the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives couldn’t buy back as the export market was disrupted due to the pandemic.

“For the FCBL to buy, the crop must not be processed in order to store it until they could find a market,” he said.

But this year, officials said that they were collaborating with the National Organic Flagship Programme to ensure an uninterrupted market for the commodity.

“We have also tried our best last year. However, things couldn’t work given the global situation,” Kinzang Chophel said.

Despite the market problem, he said that many farmers in Tashithang chiwog were coming forward to take up quinoa farming this year. The chiwog has 78 farmers.

Beginning this year, the gewog is growing the Amarilla Marangani variety.

DB Ghalley said that Amarilla Marangani was preferred in the market. The average production is expected around 600 to 700 kgs an acre. The gewog has over 15 acres of land under organic quinoa production this year.

The farmers grew DoA-1 PMB 2015 variety until last year.