After working hard for more than two to three months, urban agricultural farming at Bebena has taken off successfully for laid-off individual workers.
Some of the groups have recorded a bumper sale of their vegetable products within their locality, among hoteliers, and other areas. The vegetable growers are pleased with the available market as they do not have to worry about their excessive products.
Pema Denkar shared that they are not worried about their produce going waste as they have cultivated different varieties of vegetables which grow seasonally. Till now, she has sold broccoli for Nu 80/kg, cabbage for Nu 30/kg, cauliflower for Nu 140/kg, beans for Nu 70/kg, spring onion for Nu 30/kg and chilies for Nu 200/kg. “I don’t sell vegetables in bulk as we earn more if we sell in kilograms,” she said adding people visit their farm to buy their products.
With her co-partner, she continues to sell varieties of vegetables. With all the expenses they have incurred to make farming possible, they earn only about Nu 5,000 as a profit but “I hope to get better income in the coming months.” The rainy season challenging but she expects to continue farming for at least three more years.
Most times, they tend to their farms and also replant seedlings when their beds are empty.
A tourist guide, Pema Dendup shared that his group sells cabbage for Nu 25/kg, radish for Nu 20/kg, beans for Nu 60/kg, peas for Nu 50/kg, broccoli for Nu 75/kg, and spring onion for Nu 25/kg. His group has been selling vegetables for almost two weeks now. “Though we have just started, I feel we have better scope to earn a living from agriculture in the future,” he said.
However, there are the not-so-happy stories too. Tshering, a tourist driver and his co-partners are in huge loss. He said that they have sold only three kilograms of beans for Nu 80/kg to their neighbors. “The soil was not rich so we were not able to produce anything. The soil is muddy in summer and it has become very difficult for us,” he said.
However, they were the only group that had a poor yield; other groups have already sold many types of vegetables. “If this continues, we will get another farm, or else we will have to change our work,” he said adding that he wished to cultivate paddy next year as the soil is favorable for paddy cultivation.
The coordinator of the urban and peri-urban agriculture program, B.B Rai said the products are good but they face challenges like pest and disease with the rainy season especially since agriculture is purely organic-based. All the beneficiaries are trained on how to do pest-free farming but the problem persists.
However, B.B Rai is confident that there will be no excessive produce as everything was preplanned while dividing and distributing land. “Even if there are excessive products, the growers have been imparted ideas on drying and preserving the vegetables.”
Agricultural farming in Bebena was started to make beneficiaries self-sufficient and sell the produce if there is surplus.
Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu