Chimi Dema | Tsirang
In three weeks since the first harvest, farmers in Sergithang sold more than 4.5 metric tonnes (MT) of big green chilli earning at least Nu 2 million.
With vegetable suppliers and vendors flooding the villages in the gewog almost every day to buy every available chilli, farmers are making the most income at this time of the year.
This is the second year that farmers in Sergithang have succeeded in producing green chillies early. Farmers harvested their produce two weeks earlier than last year. Around 60 farmers have grown chillies on more than 15-acre land in the gewog.
In previous years, the first green chillies to hit the market come from Trashiyangtse.
Nar Maya Sanyasi, a farmer in Sergithang Maed has already harvested more than 190kg of chillies from her one acre. This earned her about Nu 70,000.
She sold at Nu 350 a kilogram, the lowest farm-gate price. Others charge between Nu 450 and Nu 550 a kg.
“I’ve doubled the plantation this year. A good income is expected. At the moment, we need not worry about buyers,” she said adding that support from the agriculture sector encouraged her to grow chillies.
She made more than Nu 0.4 million from selling chillies, last year.
Farmers said that in a week, at least five vegetable vendors from outside the dzongkhag come to the villages looking for chillies.
Although farmers were urged to sell chillies cheap to make it affordable and available to everyone, they said vendors offered a higher price.
“What matters to us is a good price, so we accept their offers,” said a grower in Tashithang chiwog, Bhim Subba.
This is his first time growing chillies. He has sold more than 100kg at Nu 350 a kg so far. Bhim Subba ventured into chilli cultivation after he returned home from Thimphu. He was working in a music club last year.
“The business is lucrative as of now. I’m planning to construct a house with the income,” he said.
Another grower and also a vendor, Garab Dorji has so far supplied about 600kg of chillies to Punakha and Wangdue.
To make the vegetable affordable for all, he said he had sold at Nu 550 a kg. “I pay Nu 500 for a kilogram to the farmer.”
Last year, the maximum farm-gate price for a kg of chilli was Nu 450.
The gewog agriculture extension officer, DB Ghalley said that it was difficult for farmers to maintain a fixed farm-gate price due to a huge surge in demand.
“Given a large number of growers, it is also difficult for us to monitor every day. There are other administrative tasks to be taken care of,” he said.
The gewog is expected to produce about 8.5 metric tonnes of the child this season.
Meanwhile, a kilogram of big green chilli from Tsirang costs at least Nu 700 in Thimphu.