13 years have gone by since its construction

Facility: It has been about 13 years since Zhemgang’s Sunday vegetable market sheds has remained unutilised with none of the farmers bringing their farm produce there.

Constructed in 2003 under the East Central Region Agricultural Development Project aimed at socio-economic development by increasing income for farmers, about Nu 2.4 million was spent on the construction of the six sheds.

The dzongkhag agriculture sector attempted to reinstate the Sunday vegetable market in November 2014. However, it only lasted for about a month. The dzongkhag administration has rented out some space to a meat vendor who also sells imported and local vegetables.

Agriculture officials pointed out several reasons for farmers not bringing their farm produce at the market. They said farmers did not have time to wait in the shed to sell their produce and preferred selling the vegetables in bulk to the shopkeepers in the town.

Assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer Jambay Ugyen said people did not grow many vegetables and most of what they grew went to the institutes and schools.

He said there were not many people buying vegetable in the town. “Given the high cost of locally grown vegetables, it could not compete with imported vegetables,” he said.

However, Jambay Ugyen said that the shed would not remain idle as it lies today. It will come under the thromde once the thromde is established. “The thromde would have to look for ways to utilise the space,” he said. “And we will continue facilitating farmers to grow vegetables,” he said.

The vegetable shed can accommodate some 50 farmers and it is equipped with electricity and toilet facilities.

A resident of Zhemgang, Tshering Penjore said that many people living in the town have their own kitchen garden, as there are no local vegetable vendors.

He also said that the Khengrig Namsum Cooperatives go around the villages collecting vegetables to be sent to Thimphu.

Records indicate an increase in vegetable production over the years. Zhemgang grew 976 metric tones (MT) of vegetables in 2015 from about 705 MT in 2014. As per the annual performance agreement, the dzongkhag requires to produce 1,297 metric tones of vegetables this year.

Nima Wangdi | Zhemgang