A group of farmers are reaping the benefits of a mega greenhouse project in Pema Gatshel. The farmers set up the mega greenhouse which is the first of its kind in the district early this year to grow chilli. Encouraged by the bountiful harvest, they are now motivated to cultivate chilli throughout the year.
The greenhouse worth Nu 3 M is constructed on sixty-five-year-old Bumchu Wangdi’s 60-decimal land in January with fund support from the District Agriculture Sector and the Gewog Administration. While Bumchu cultivates chilli on one row of the greenhouse, a farmer’s group from the village grow the spice on another row. It is their fourth harvest this season.
And they still have two more harvests before the season ends.
“The productivity is much better when cultivating in the mega greenhouse compared to growing the spice in an open field. It hasn’t even been a year and I have had bountiful yield already,” he said.
“Cultivating inside the mega greenhouse is much better. If we plant it outdoors, the weeds grow very fast and we don’t get time for weeding. Moreover, the crop gets infected by fungus when there is heavy rainfall and doesn’t grow well if there is continuous sunshine,” said Kezang Chedon, a member of the Chhimung Vegetable Group.
“In the absence of a mega greenhouse, the plants would die when there is heavy rainfall. And with the smaller greenhouse, even the production was less. However, with the mega greenhouse, we can grow crops on a commercial scale,” said Norbu Chojay, the Chairperson of the Chhimung Vegetable Group.
However, they are challenged with an acute shortage of water due to a lack of containers to store the rainwater.
As a result, the group could cultivate only one row for this season. Farmers said although they were told to harvest rainwater from the greenhouse, they could not do so due to a lack of containers. Today they water the chilli plants manually.
“They have drilled holes in the greenhouse during the construction. But we don’t have the materials. So, we have used the containers we use in our homes to store water which we had to take back to store drinking water. Due to shortage of water, we couldn’t cultivate on one row,” the Chairperson said.
“If we have some containers then we can harvest rainwater. We cannot use drinking water for irrigation as there is a shortage of water in the village. Even the neighbours scold us if we do that,” added Kezang Chedon.
They are now requesting reservoirs to store water.
And the issue could be solved sooner. According to the district agriculture office, they are looking into the possibility of providing an automated irrigation system in the mega greenhouse. The office is currently discussing the matter with specialists from the Agricultural Machinery Centre in Paro and Agriculture Research and Development Centre in Wengkhar.
The office added that the facility will be installed within this year so the farmers can use it during winter chilli cultivation.
Meanwhile, back in the village, Bumchu Wangdi and the members of Chhimung Vegetable group have already sown chilli seeds in preparation for winter chilli cultivation. All they need is interventions for an uninterrupted supply of irrigation water to enjoy a harvest in abundance this winter.
Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel
Edited by Phub Gyem