In two week’s time, the first harvest of winter chili from Dagana is expected to hit the market.
While some farmers from gewogs like Tashiding and Tsendagang are already selling the produce in the local market, many are waiting for theirs to mature.
Dzongkhag agriculture officer Passang Tshering said that by mid next month, the first harvest is expected to reach the market. Plantation was done in such a manner that beginning mid December, the harvest will last until March next year. Gewog agriculture extension officers will soon begin surveying the production quantity in the field.
Before marketing the produce to other parts of the country, the dzongkhag targets to make chili enough for local consumers first. After making the dzongkhag self sufficient in chili, the rest will be sold to other dzongkhags. “We expect to harvest at least 12 metric ton from 73 acre area,” Passang Tshering said.
Marketing the produce to other dzongkhags has not been thought about right now.
Karmaling is one of the gewogs in Dagana that is expected to produce the highest amount of chili this winter. About 40 farmers are growing chili on at least 15-acre land. Tashiding, Lhamoizingkha and Tsendagang gewogs are growing on 10 acre each while Nichula gewog has planted chilies on eight acres of land.
Five gewogs including Tseza, Kana, Goshi, Dorona and Khebisa will not grow any winter chili because of cold. Most of these gewogs are located 1,200 meters above sea level. Small pockets of farmers in Geserling and Largyab also will grow winter chili.
Gewog extension officer of Karmaling, Sangay Dorji said that chili was successfully planted in three attempts in his gewog. The first batch of saplings died while the second did not grow well. It was suspected that high humidity and extreme temperature caused the seedlings to wither.
One of the chili farmers there, Tek Bahadur Subba passionately prepared an acre land last month to plant winter chili but he could plant them in less than half of his land. Most saplings died before he could transplant them.
Growing chili in winter is a challenge, he says. Hot and humid weather affects the vegetable. However, the saplings he planted on some 40 decimal lands have now begun flowering. He used different method to plant them as recommended by agriculture officials from Thimphu. He first planted the saplings in a plastic teacup and transplanted them to the field with mulch.
Tek Bahadur said officials from Thimphu told him that the chili plants were getting to much water earlier. “Although the chili plants don’t look healthy, I’m expecting to harvest at least a kilogram from one plant,” he said. He expects to harvest at least 700kgs from the 600 saplings he planted.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang