With more than 200 farmers in Tsirang growing chilli in 51 acres of land, Tsirang is expected to produce about 50 metric tons of green chilli this winter.

This is a part of the agriculture ministry’s winter chilli production project in the southern dzongkhags.

Agriculture officials say that the first harvest of about 900kgs of chilli will come to the market this week. Sergithang gewog will produce 500kgs, the maximum, this week.

Assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer, Sonam, said farmers have to grow the chillies. “Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCBL), Youth Business Cooperative and the ministry’s Department of Marketing and Cooperatives will market it.”

He said that the agencies will also fix the price of the chillies. “It is expected that a kilogram of chilli would cost between Nu 150 and 200 a kilogram.”

In the field, few farmers are still transplanting the fourth batch of nursery seedlings, some are weeding and others are preparing to begin harvesting.

Officials say that they will collect the information on how much a farmer produces before it is brought to the market. “Our colleagues at the gewog have already started gathering production information,” Sonam said.

The agriculture sector has already signed an agreement with the farmers that they will have to grow chillies for at least three consecutive years whereby they will be provided with facilities such as water storage tanks, pipes and mulching plastics.

Officials said the farmers are also provided expensive hybrid 10gm seeds that cost about Nu 500 a packet. Tsirang distributed at least 5.7kgs of seed.

Sonam said that the first nursery was raised in the first week of September.

He said that with an interval of at least two weeks, four nurseries were made.  “It is done in such a manner that the production would start coming to market beginning December until March.”

Eight gewogs of Semjong, Gosarling, Rangthaling, Kilkhorthang, Phungtenchu, Sergithang, Barshong, Tsholingkhar and Tsirangtoed will soon harvest the winter chilli.

Semjong, Sergithang and Gosarling will be growing in the maximum area of 15, 12 and 10 acres respectively.

While farmers in Kilkorthang have planted chilli in the six-acre land, Phungtenchu, Tsholingkhar and Tsirangtoed have planted in two-acre each.

In Barshong gewog farmers have planted in two and a half acre land and a farmer in Rangthangling has grown chilli in a half-acre land.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang