Winter vegetable program making incremental gains

The demand for vegetables in the country, especially in winter, is gradually being met by the supply of vegetables from farms in Bhutan.

The farmers in many dzongkhags are now encouraged to grow vegetables on a large scale due to the easy access to the market. The vegetable vendors across the country have also been able to find an easy access to the vegetable production sites during any season.

After making an assessment on vegetable production in various dzongkhags, the Council for RNR Research of Bhutan and Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), found that some dzongkhags in the low-lying areas are able to produce vegetables for the winter season to meet the domestic needs.

As per the report, “Facilitation of Contractual Supply of RNR Products by Farmers’ Groups to Institutes”, launched by the SNV Netherlands Development Organization, this year, it states that the RNR products from 1,517 households in 57 farmers’ group brought in Nu 20.6mn worth in sales. Further, it shows that about 795 households in 57 farmers’ groups supplied about Nu 7.15mn worth of RNR products, including potatoes, to 31 schools and institutions in Bhutan in 2013.

The initiation of vegetable production program in winter months by MoAF is targeted at enhancing the cash income and livelihood of farmers, and at the same time, creating an abundance of vegetables in the country throughout the year.

More than 25 acres of land belonging to 53 households of Khatoed and Khamed gewogs are engaged in commercial vegetable farming. This has enabled the dzongkhag to see an upsurge in organic vegetables production, both in summer and winter.

As per the study carried out by the CoRRB in 205 gewogs in 2011, about 32 different vegetables by an individual household holding land less than 1 ha.

The six eastern dzongkhags, like Trashigang, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse, Samdrup Jongkhar and Pemagatshel have been identified for mass production of import depended vegetables, like onions, tomatoes, garlics and bitter gourds during the winter season.

The initiative of DAMC in forming farmers’ group has benefited farmers in marketing their farm produce easily. In the east most of the institutions have a pre contract with the local vegetables suppliers, who consistently supply local vegetables. Around 43 farmers’ group and institutions have signed agreements to purchase vegetables from various farms.

With such initiatives, the farmers are motivated and more informed to take-up commercial vegetable cultivation rather than practicing subsistence cultivation.

DAMC has also started the assessment of vegetable production across the country to determine quantity of winter vegetable production from each dzongkhags.

With the winter vegetable program thriving in the country, there has been a significant drop in the import of vegetables, with consumers shifting their preference to the local farm produce.

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