HYV is grown under protection

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

This spring, the women’s vegetable group in Kideykhar, Mongar, is trying out a new thing. They are into what’s called protected cultivation of tomatoes, which they claim, has not been tried so far.

Although a bit sceptical initially, the seven-member group is relying on greenhouse. Known as Kideykhar Chirup Tshesey Detshen, they have planted around 200 tomato seedlings.

The dzongkhag and Agriculture Research Development Center (ARDC), Wengkhar supported the group with materials, while the ARDC provided center’s nursery raised seedling and technical support.

A group member, Tshewang Choden, said they stopped planting tomatoes after it didn’t grow well because of the high altitude. “We used to grow tomatoes for self-consumption but quit after it didn’t yield much,” she said.

Group’s chairperson, Dorji Tshomo, said they would grow twice if it grows well under protection given its market potential. “We’re enthusiastic and if it it’s successful, we are planning to turn it into a major cash crop,” she said.

Although ARDC officials could not be contacted, the centre on its Facebook page wrote that they would be studying the production economics of the protected cultivation with the group.

Agriculture officials said this is a new variety of tomato called Roma, hybrid variety developed by Druk Seed Corporation, Paro. It is cultivated in the low altitude area in the open fields. An agriculture official said it’s bigger in size and a plant would yield more than six kilogrammes if grown well.

The project is supported by CARLEP – IFAD support as a part of the expanded outreach programme of the centre in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

Since its formation in 2017, the vegetable group has been growing vegetables like potato, chilli, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. But commercial farming started only last year, and the group earned around Nu 50,000.

After signing contract with Kideykhar Central School to supply vegetables along with four agriculture farmers’ groups in Wengkhar and Themnangbi chiwogs this year, the group members said they have expanded their area of cultivation.

Kideykhar chiwog tshogpa, Tshering Dorji, said vegetables and milk are the major source of income for the villagers in the chiwog, and the 15-member dairy group earns from selling around 50 liters of milk daily.