Dry hides while the sun shines, grow more vegetables while the Rupee reserve slumps

In the back drop of the rupee crunch which limits vegetables import and in sync with the agriculture ministry’s initiative to enhance local agricultural production to meet the goal of self-reliance, farmers around the country are now aiming to produce fruits and vegetables, in bigger quantities.

Tawchum, 22 year old, of Tshochekha village under Genyen geog, Thimphu dzongkhag has heard, local products will now have better markets. She has  started producing more than what her family can consume.

According to her, she cultivated 20 sacks of potato seeds last year. “This year, I’ve planted 30 sacks which are currently almost at the flowering stage.”

“Our sole source of livelihood is toiling in the field and producing our own foods, therefore it is good news for us,” Tawchum said.   She own three acres of dry land in which she grows different vegetables on seasonal basis with the help of her other two family members.

Most of the farmers had heard of the ministry’s policy of enhancing local agriculture production through the geog extension agent who encouraged them to work hard and produce in excess.

Tawchum said her extra efforts have really paid off and her field presently is full of potatoes and peas plants. Looking at the healthy plants in the field, she is confident of reaping a good harvest this year.

She also opined that it is not really late for Bhutanese farmers to think beyond subsistence farming.

With Genyen gewog closely located to the capital city and with easy road access, she believes that her products will have good market opportunities. She said that she is going to experiment this year. “If I get to earn good income this year, it’ll really encourage me to produce more next year,” she added.

Another farmer, a 33 year old Dorji from Wangbama of same geog is also working towards supporting the ministry’s initiative. “Most of the farmers here are now in serious vegetable cultivations and they are planting almost double of last year,” he said.

Genyen gewog is about one and half hour drive south from Thimphu with more than one hundred households. It lies at an altitude of about 2900 metres above sea level with good forest resources. Although, the geog has great potential for agriculture production, farmers there get disappointed sometimes with poor harvest due to pest and diseases.

Dorji said that it is a big blow for them when pest and diseases ruin the harvest sending all their efforts down the drain. He said if the concerned authority could provide us with pesticides to combat the diseases, it would be helpful.

On the contrary, with Royal Monetary Authority to stop replenishing vegetables vendors with fresh supply of Indian Rupees, the villagers are worried about maintaining the constant supply of vegetables at the Centenary Farmers’ Market in Thimphu.

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