Shumar farmers see potential in onions

Kelzang Wangchuk | Pemagatshel

There is potential for people in Pemagatshel’s Shumar gewog to cultivate onion on a mass scale going by the trial productions in the gewog.

Three households had taken up cultivation on a trial in November last year with the Agriculture Research and Development sub-centre in Lingmithang, Mongar supporting them with onion seeds.

It is the first time farmers in the dzongkhag tried growing onion on a commercial scale.

Ugyen Chophel, cultivated onion in more than 30 decimals and spent about Nu 10,000. He is happy with his trail project and planning to increase cultivation next year if it does well in the market. Ugyen said it is easier to grow onions compared with other crops and could harvest within six months. He is yet to sell his onions and has kept in the curing shed, a process for onions to mature after harvest.

The other two farmers said that since it was the trial project, they are concerned about the market because the products would get spoiled if they could not sell on time.

They said they do not face water problem in summer, but it could be a challenge in winter because onion requires heavy irrigation.

The Shumar gewog’s agriculture extension officer, Sha Bdr Barakoti, said seeds were distributed to about 26 households which covered about two acres in the gewog. “However, only three households took up mass cultivation on trial.”

He said they had collected more than 1,500kgs of onion already and started selling in the local market, adding that some products are kept in the curing shed. It is doing well in the market because it fetches Nu 35 to Nu 50 a kg of onion.

Sha Bdr Barakoti said the agriculture sector had provided water tanks and sprinkles to harvest and store rainwater as they face water shortage in winter. His office also provided the curing shed to dry the products properly.

The extension officer said with schools closed, a potential market for local onions are gone, but said that farmers can supply at least 100kgs a month to schools once they reopen.

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