Twelve gewogs in Samtse would grow chillies and go commercial this winter, agriculture officers in the dzongkhag said.

The target, according to the officials, is to harvest 152 metric tonnes (MT) of chillies in 100 acres of land between December this year and March next year.

This initiative comes some time after the country banned the import of chillies due to its high harmful chemical contents. As chillies will not be grown in the higher regions of the country in winter, organic chillies from Samtse will replace the import.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer (DAO) in Samtse, Chogyal Norbu, said that 12 gewogs out of 15 were identified based on the weather condition.

“Gewogs in higher elevations will not grow the crop,” he said, adding that more than 290 households from the select gewogs would grow chillies. “We will harvest when there is acute shortage of chillies.”

Several nurseries in identified gewogs are already ready with chili saplings. It will be distributed to farmers in another few days, the official said.

Meanwhile, the department of agriculture has distributed hybrid seeds for nurseries. After the chillies are harvested, agriculture officials in Samtse said that the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives would support the farmers to market the chillies.

DAO Chogyal Norbu also said that the chillies were grown in 2016. But the focus would be more this year, he added.

“This practise will continue for continuous years,” he said, adding that it would be both a trial and research.

Gewog wise targets are also identified and public consultation among the farmers has been carried out.

Along with chili, farmers in Samtse will also concentrate on growing other vegetables for which import is banned due to pesticides used such as cauliflowers and beans.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse