English | Dzongkha Sunday, February 23, 2020

Shabei Goenchu, an income generator

Changa Dorji, Punakha
May 29, 2019

Cucumbers, locally known as Shabei Goenchu is flooding the market these days and people from Punakha are making good incomes from selling it. 35-year-old Daw is one among others from Mendagang, Dzomi Gewog, Punakha who do mass cucumber plantation.

With half folded Gho and trusting his sun cap, Ap Daw, is engrossed in carefully picking Shabei Goenchu in a scorching sun. The harvest is put in a basket and he is being extra careful not to step on the vines. He is helped by his 30 year-old wife, Phub Dem.

“Shabei Goenchu is one of the income sources for us. We prioritize on cucumber plantation and do not plant many chillies like others. We use more than an acre of land to plant cucumbers. We increase the size of plantation annually to get more money,” Daw from Mendagang said.

According to the locals, the name ‘Shabei Goenchu’ for the cucumber derived from Paro Shaba from where the seeds were first brought.

At this time of the year, the paddy fields are usually empty, but with the cucumbers fetching good price, people of Mendagang have started converting their fallow lands into cucumber farm. Cucumbers saw their places expanded from a kitchen garden to acre fields.

The locals plant their Shabei Goenchu sometime in the twelfth month of the Bhutanese calendar and begin to sell it by third to fourth month. According to Daw, Shabei Goenchu does not require much care and heavy works like other cash crops to grow it successfully. But he says it fetches a good amount of money if everything goes well.

“I made about sixty to seventy thousand ngultrum by selling cucumbers last year. I am expecting about one hundred thousand ngultrum this year since I have increased the size of plantation. Some cucumbers are still flowering and some are in the process of bearing fruits in the field,” he added with a smile.

 “The money we fetch from selling cucumbers helps us to pay our loan and to meet school expenses for our children. It also helps us in our day-to-day expenses. Moreover, we can also save some amounts in the bank from selling our cucumbers,” Dawa from the same village said.

People are trying to sell their cucumbers as far as possible within a month as the life span of its harvest is extremely limited. Locals say they have to sell the cucumbers at the earliest to avoid getting it spoiled and useless.

According to the farmers, the people are exclusively using organic fertilizers and earn good income every year. Today, almost all the people in the village plant the Shabei Goenchu in their paddy fields and make a good sustainable livelihood from it.

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