English | Dzongkha Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Farmers’ income affected in Wangdue amid the pandemic

Jan 14, 2021

It is a busy season for the farmers of Bjagphu chiwog in Wangdue Phodrang. Their winter vegetable is ready for harvest. But unlike elsewhere in the country where vegetable farmers are enjoying better returns amid the pandemic, their income is slightly affected. This time, due to the lockdown restrictions, the farmers of the chiwog are unable to transport vegetables to the market as regularly as in the past.

Farmers wait by the roadside with their vegetables in sacks. The village Tshogpa arranged a bolero pickup truck to take the products to Thimphu. As soon as the truck arrives, farmers load the vehicle to its capacity and ensure that nothing is left behind since the vegetables are those with limited shelf life such as spinach, broccoli, scallions and coriander.

But the pickup is arranged for twice or thrice a week.

According to the farmers, they have enough vegetables to ensure supply for the next three months. But the farmers cannot take them to the market whenever they feel like it.

Karma Yangden, a farmer in Bjagphu said, “this time, we could not sell our vegetable like in the past years. Otherwise, we could have fetched decent amount by this time. Of course, we are sending our vegetables from here, but due to huge production, even they cannot take it all at a time. I plant the vegetables in around 25 decimals of land throughout the season.”

Although she said her vegetable production increased this year, her earnings from vegetables have lessened. She said, “by this time, I could have fetched around Nu 200,000 to 300,000 otherwise. But I could not get even Nu 20,000 so far this time. Moreover, we also do not have a habit of stocking by drying the spinach. So, I am thinking of feeding to others’ cow if I cannot sell it all this time.”

Like her, Chador Lham also shares a similar story. Chador grows varieties of vegetables in winter.

She said, “actually, we used to fetch around Nu 90,000 to 100,000 from the winter vegetables even if we sell it at Nu 10 per bundle from here. We would get more than that if we go to sell by ourselves. In summer, we plant chillies and some amount of spinach and onions. And in winter, we plant spinach, onion, coriander, broccoli, lettuce and some cauliflowers and cabbage.”

Although a compromise on income, according to Ugyen Kelzang, the Chiwog’s Tshogpa, for some farmers, the current arrangement of pickup at the doorstep is more convenient.

He said, “some people told me that the vegetable supplied directly from here is convenient, as they need not waste one day by travelling to Thimphu. They also said the amount fetched from selling vegetable is just finishing it in the town itself. So, supplying from the village is more beneficial according to them since they can save the entire amount.”

For the farmers in Bjagphu chiwog, growing vegetable is one of the main sources of income. It is practised throughout the year.

“Since the beginning of the second nationwide lockdown, we have sent six bolero trips of vegetables to Thimphu for commercial, and we are sending one trip today. Likewise, we have supplied three bolero trips to some Dratshang and frontline workers. So, in total, we have sent ten bolero trips from here so far,” the Tshogpa added.

Bjagphu chiwog, with more than 25 households, is located some 12 kilometres away from the district headquarters.

Changa Dorji, Wangdue Phodrang

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