Chimi Dema | Gangtey
Farmers in Gangtey and Phobji gewogs in Wangdue are gradually tapping in to large scale cultivation of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, bunching onion, and radish, among others.
Farmers restricted themselves to growing only a few vegetables for self consumption in the past.
Potato is the main cash crop in the gewog due to its suitable climatic conditions. About 2,000 acres of land are used for potato cultivation every year, producing an average yield of around 5 metric tonnes an acre.
Radish and turnip grow well but these are mainly used as winter fodder for cattle and some for self-consumption.
An experiment conducted this year by Gangtey gewog agriculture extension office has found that these vegetables grow well both in greenhouse and in an open field.
More than five greenhouses were built in the gewogs with the financial and in kind support from the dzongkhag administration, Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) in Bajo and Integrated Horticulture Promotion Project of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“The vegetables were harvested within three months,” said gewog’s agriculture extension, Sangay Wangdi.
“Farmers can cut down on the cost of production if they take grow these vegetables.”
As farmers finish potato plantation by March, Sangay Wangdi said that they could grow vegetables until harvest time in August. “The plantation can also help enhance soil fertility.”
“Vegetable production could also prove beneficial to homestay service providers,” he said.
Jangchen Kumbu’s representative of Gangtey, Phurba was one among five farmers who had tried growing vegetables. He earned about Nu 1,000 this season.
“If I had cultivated from January, the yield would have been better.”
The demand for locally grown vegetables are expected to rise with bigger tourist hotels coming up in the gewog. Phurpa wants to grow more and at commercial scale. “This would be convenient for both hoteliers and villagers and save them transportation costs.”
According to Phurba, the problem of market accessibility in the region is a major factor detering farmers from vegetable cultivation.
In addition, crop raiding by wild animals, farm labour shortage, water shortage, storage and marketing facilities are the common constraints for vegetable production in the locality.
“If all these challenges are addressed, vegetable production in the locality would grow,” another farmer Sangay Dorji said.
A homestay service provider in Khewang village of Gangtey, Daw grows cabbage, broccoli, and onion among other vegetables in his greenhouse. Today, the two gewogs together have over 700 households.