Office goers’ after-office passion to achieve vegetable self-sufficiency

More than 20 office goers living in and around Hejo area have set out to grow their own vegetables and achieve ‘self sufficiency’ by not resorting to buying imported vegetables in the market.

This motley crew has already started operations on the Dratshang Lhentshog (monastic body) land which remained fallow for many years. The group aims to plant a variety of vegetables on the terraced land.

The Rupee crunch due to which imported vegetables attained Gold ratings overnight is one sole reason why the group has doggedly taken up this endeavor.

They aim to produce vegetables of their own in view of the rupee crunch which limits import of Indian vegetables.

“I heard about substitution policy and owing to this I have planted the most consumed vegetables like chilies, potatoes and brinjal,” Pema Choki 35, wife of a Policeman said.

She has occupied two terraces which are laden with healthy vegetables plants.

“We started cultivating from last year and the harvest in the previous year was encouraging which is why we have planted double than last year,” she added.

“We’re into our own backyard vegetable gardening because we believe that self sufficiency of vegetable starts at home.” Ugyen Tshering an employee with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest said.

Ugyen Tshering is very much aware of the government policies and strategies to boost the homegrown vegetables.

According to him if even one family does not have to buy vegetables from the markets, it means to relieve pressure in small magnitudes. “And here we’re talking about some 20 different families,” he said.

“We are planning not to use any pesticides and chemical products. The group has bought Farm Yard Manures (FYM) which cost us Nu 20 per sack from a cattle owner nearby instead of the chemical fertilizers.

Most of the group members said that the plot of land is better cultivated and put to use than left fallow.

“The production may be just enough to suffice our own need and there may not be any surplus and even if there is any, we don’t intend to sell.” Choejay Lhamo, 21 said.

She has planted chilies, potatoes, beans, cucumber, radish and other essential vegetables.

She also said that she would rather do some post harvest processing and save it for lean season which would mean converting it into dried product.

Most of the growers are cultivating for their own consumption and the acreage of land they are cultivating is minimal.

“And we don’t know what types of pesticides and chemical fertilizers those imported vegetables comes with. Producing our own give us control over what types of pesticides and chemical fertilizers we add hence from the health point of view, it is safer and healthier to grow our own vegetable,” another vegetable grower Dema said busy applying FYM manure to her healthy chilli plants.

It’s not only about helping the government in their efforts of boosting internal vegetables production but also ensuring a healthy food for their own consumption.

While many have managed to buy inputs such as seeds from Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM), one of the 20 vegetable producers, who currently works in the foreign ministry said he brought seeds all the way from his hometown in Trashigang.

Production of healthy local vegetables on his farm will go a long way in reduction of unhealthy vegetable imports. He has eight family members in his house. So, by any standard, his family would be consuming lots of vegetables in a year.

Sangay Wangmo and Ugyen Wangmo also wife of policemen are working in pair. While many are first timers, they have cultivated vegetables in the same plot of land since last year.

With no easy access to the inputs, what worries them equally is the lack of rainfall. If it doesn’t rain within few weeks or so, all their vegetables plants risk wilting and scalding.

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