Farmers across the country are often forced to sell their farm produce even when they cannot fetch a good price in the market. This is mainly due to the lack of facilities to store and dry the produce. Similarly, in Bidung Gewog of Trashigang, farmers sell garlic in a rush due to the fear of their crop getting damaged as they do not have facilities to cure and dry garlic. Garlic is one of the main sources of cash income for the farmers of Bidung.
Farmers start cultivating garlic in October. And the crop is ready for harvest in March and April.
Nowadays, farmers here are busy harvesting garlic. And without proper drying facilities, they uproot and leave the crop in the field for a few days to dry.
Some even hang the garlic in bundles with the bulb down around their houses to dry while a few farmers cut the dried plant and dry the garlic bulb in the sun.
This old method, the farmers say, damages the garlic, which affects the price in the market.
“When we dry garlic in the field, it gets damaged because of rainfall and moisture. We tried finding solutions and even started drying garlic on plastic, but that was not a good idea as the heat from the soil damages the crop,” said Phurpa Wangmo, a resident.
“We are in a hurry to sell because we do not have a proper place to hang the garlic. It has to be hung once uprooted, or it will get damaged. So, that is why we try to sell at the earliest. Until this year, we have been fetching Nu 100 per kilogram. But we heard the dealer is giving only Nu 70 to 80 this season due to excess supply,” said Thinley Choden, another resident.
The farmers earn between Nu 30,000 and 100,000 every year from selling garlic.
A few farmers have also started selling garlic to other districts in the hopes of fetching a better price.
To help ease the marketing challenge, the Bidung Gewog Agriculture Extension official assisted them in selling two tonnes of garlic to Bhutan Agro Industry Limited’s office in Lingmithang, Monggar.
The gewog also plans to provide drying facilities in the next five-year plan.
“During the first year of the 13th five-year plan, we have plans to provide a facility in each chiwog with funds from the gewog. In addition, we will also try to get support from the district, and other agencies like the Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme to make store house. We will also find a market in future,” said Pema Wangchuk, Gewog Agriculture Extension Assistant of Bidung Gewog.
He added that the price has decreased as other districts are also supplying garlic to markets in Thimphu.
Farmers in Bidung have been growing garlic on a larger scale every year. In 2021, they cultivated garlic on around 15 acres of land and produced 26 metric tons of garlic.
Last year, around 300 households cultivated the crop on nearly 30 acres of land and they are expecting to produce 50 metric tons of garlic.
It has been around four years since they started cultivating the crop for commercial purposes.
Sonam Darjay, Trashigang
Edited by Phub Gyem
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