Chief Agriculture Officer of Department of Agriculture under Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Namgay Thinley said that most winter vegetables have hit the market along with the chillies in the country.
The common winter vegetables which are already in abundant in the market are cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbage, radish, ginger, green leaves (sag, lettuce, spinach), ginger, pumpkin, coriander, bunching onion, chayote and beans. Domestic vegetables like green peas, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes are also available in the market but in limited volume.
He said that with a drive to make country self-sufficient in vegetable production and consumption, the production of winter vegetables have increased significantly over a period of one decade.
“Besides tomato, chilli and onion the requirement for almost all other vegetables are met from domestic production. The increased in winter vegetables is achieved mainly due to focused interventions through promotion of high yielding varieties (HYV), protected agriculture technologies (greenhouses), efficient irrigation systems (sprinklers, drips equipment), and farm mechanizations,’ he said.
The vegetable self-sufficiency percentage of the country stands at 85% and MoAF is targeting to make the country 100% self-sufficient in vegetables in one and half year from now.
He added that the production and availability of local vegetables in summer season is not a problem. Besides meeting the domestic requirement, the country export substantial volume of vegetables to India during the summer season.
“The export of vegetables has increased from 1,820 MTs (Nu. 42 Million) in 2015 to 3,687 MTs (Nu. 74 mn) in 2019,” he added.
He said that the major challenges that beset the production of vegetables in winter season are limited arable land with suitable climatic conditions for winter crops and only southern Dzongkhags and lowlands of some northern dzongkhags are suitable for winter vegetable production.
“Water source and perennial spring water dries up in winter and pose acute shortage of irrigation water for vegetable production in some parts of country. Pest and diseases like yellowing of chilli plants in Sarpang and other Dzongkhags are hampering the productivity of winter vegetables. Availability of cheap vegetables across the border or strong competition from imported vegetables resulting in low market price of local vegetables discourages our farmers to venture into commercialization of winter vegetable production,” he said.
According to the Ministry, the overall vegetable production data for winter crop can be determined only after conducting annual survey. However, during the second lock down period of one month the Ministry has marketed about 30,966 kgs of chillies and 3,870 kgs of tomatoes. Onion is not produced in winter season and is imported.
The government has been focusing mainly on Seven Southern Dzongkhags for winter vegetable production in the country amidst the pandemic