Farmers in Sergithang Gewog in Tsirang started growing early Bhutanese chilli on a trial basis in 2020. It was to address the shortage of chilli in the country. The pilot project has encouraged many farmers to cultivate the spice on mass as they can earn a good income. This year, the farmers have cultivated chilli on more than 50 acres of land compared to 30 acres last year.
More than a hundred households of Sergithang Gewog are growing chilli this time.
Farmers said the production looks promising and will hit the market within two weeks. Easy marketing and better prices have encouraged the farmers to grow early Bhutanese chilli on a large scale.
“We don’t face any market issues because of early production compared to other places. Moreover, vegetable vendors visit our doorsteps and pay higher prices than what we expect,” said Rinchen Phuentsho, a farmer.
“These days, the income from selling early Bhutanese chilli is enough to provide education to our children,” said Ganapati Sanyasi, another farmer.
Farmers earned about Nu 50,000 to 200,000 last year.
According to the district agriculture sector, farmers are interested in growing the early Bhutanese chilli instead of the small green chilli. This is because of the price fluctuation and lack of market for small green chillies.
“Early Bhutanese chilli growers have increased by almost three-fold this year. Farmers have grown small green chilli last year but they faced a market issue. The farmers had a tough time selling small green chilli. People didn’t buy the chilli even at Nu 20 per kilogram,” said D.B Ghalley, the Gewog Agriculture Extension Supervisor.
He added that the cold weather and heavy snowfall during winter delayed the production by a few weeks. Last year, farmers started selling the spice by this time of the year.
“The delay in production may not hamper the prices of early Bhutanese chilli because other places across the country could have experienced a similar weather pattern this time. Even if the chilli from a few other places hit the market, this will not affect the price much because of limited supply in the market,” said D.B Ghalley, the Gewog Agriculture Extension Supervisor.
But once the chilli hits the market, the exorbitant prices will be an issue for consumers. To address the price hike, agriculture officials usually ask the farmers to sell the spice at Nu 350 a kilogram.
Pema Tshewang, Tsirang
Edited by Tshering Zam
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