…encouraged by successful trial

Chimi Dema  | Sergithang

Not long ago, it was cardamom and citrus mandarin that was the source of income for many farmers in Tsirang. Now they are trying their hands on watermelons.

A farmer in Tashithang under Sergithang gewog,  Sanman Subba grew the melons on a 50 decimal land last year and earned about Nu 300,000. Encouraged by the prospects, Sanman doubled the plantation area and is expecting a better income.

Besides hitting the nearest market in Damphu, he had also sold his melons in Wangdue and Punakha.

Given the scope, especially with import restricted, many farmers in the locality have now taken up growing watermelon.

The juicy and fleshy fruit was first introduced in the gewog last year on a trial basis engaging four farmers. With a successful production and income, about 24 farmers in the community have now ventured into mass watermelon plantation on more than 12-acre land.

The first harvest this year, about two metric tonnes hit the market last Sunday. Other farmers are expecting the harvest by the end of this month.

Inspired by his fellow farmers’ yield last year, another farmer, Rudra Lal Sanyasi also started growing watermelon on a 30 decimal land. He said the technical support from the gewog’s agriculture department further encouraged him.

“So far I have tagged around 200 fruits and I am hopeful for a bountiful harvest,” Rudra Lal Sanyasi said.

Farmers said cultivating watermelon is comparatively easier than other crops.

A farmer, Ukha Rai said that it requires quite a lot of effort during the initial plantation but gets easier as long as there is sufficient water.

The gewog’s agriculture extension officer, DB Ghalley said that following the successful trail, about 35 farmers from Sergithang gewog were trained with the support from dzongkhag’s agriculture sector and the agriculture research and development centre.

“However, only about 24 of them are in the field, currently as the plantation didn’t work for a few farmers,” he said. “The favourable weather pattern and soil fertility of the dzongkhag also favours the cultivation.”

DB Ghalley said that the farmers have now become well aware of the technical management including tagging of fruits.

He said that the pests were controlled with natural pesticides. “We are targeting mainly for organic produce and I think we are fulfilling the goal.”

The local produce, he said is also expected to substitute huge import of watermelons.