Urka Bangala dying, farmers worried

Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

Farmers in Trashiyangtse are finding it hard to sell Urka Bangala (chili species endemic to Bumdeling gewog) due to disease called blight.

Farmers of Bimkhar usually start harvesting the chili in early July which continues until September. For many chili is the main source of income. Farmers make about Nu 150,000 during peak season.

Tshering Paldon from Bimkhar said many farmers had stopped raising the crop.

A farmer, Dorji Dolma, said the diseases had affected half of her chili cultivation.

“I am really worried. This time I could not sell even a kilogram of chillies,” she said. “I could have made at least Nu 100,000 by selling the chili.”

Another farmer, Sonam Uden, said spraying pesticide did not work after the plants are affected.

“We won’t be able to produce much this time,” she said.

According to Trashiyangtse’s dzongkhag agriculture officer, Kuenzang Peldon, blight was caused by heavy and continuous rain. “It is the worst this year.”

Farmer Tsheringmo said that chili the disease attacked stem and roots which resulted in wilting of the plants.

Sonam Choki from Bimkhar the farmers could have acted sooner had there not been shortage of pesticide.

Yangtse gewog agriculture extension officer, Dawa Dem, said farmers were told to drain out standing water from the field immediately after rain and use fungicide. “Farmers were trained to use preventive methods such as long-term crop rotation and to remove infected plants.”

A farmer said that the people in the past grew chili only self-consumption but now it was the principal source of income for many.

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