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Organic chillies from Samtse to hit the market early next year 

Farmers are optimistic that their hard work will yield returns

The first harvest of mass organic chillies from Samtse that famers from 12 gewogs in the district have been growing this year following the ban on the import of chillies from India is expected to be available in the market by January next year.

Famers in Samtse Dzongkhag, following the ban, had moved into mass chilli cultivation to cater to the domestic market. They have started cultivation in groups with the support from the Dzongkhag Agriculture Office and other relevant agencies.

The Dzongkhag is trying a pilot project on three hybrid chilli varieties by supplying its saplings to the farmers in 99.9 acres in agro ecological zones favoring chilli production in the selected gewogs. SV2319HA, SHP4884 and PAN1498 are supplied to the farmers of the selected gewogs with support from the Research Center at Samtenling, Sarpang. The first harvest was expected to reach markets by December end.

This year, the Dzongkhag has targeted to produce 150 Metric Ton (MT) of chilli. But because of some challenges, the target is not likely to be met.

Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer Chogyal Norbu, however, said that 60% of the target will be fulfilled if all the farmers work hard. Other issues like pests and diseases have also become a challenge.

Though the Dzongkhag started supplying saplings since last year but not much has been harvested. But this year, the farmers are provided with material supports like water supply pipes, tarpaulin sheets and watering cans, among others, with supports from the Agriculture Department and the research center.

However, being a pilot project the cultivation is done stage wise. The required input will be carried out accordingly, said the DAO. “We will try to improve production further based on this year’s experience. It’s still under trial and error method,” he said, adding that a record will be maintained for further improvements.

The product after harvest would be supplied to the capital with the assistance from the department and the Dzongkhag. Also, if harvest favors, the products will also go to other neighboring Dzongkhags. However, there is no immediate plan to export these chillies.

“Of course, our organic products will be in demand, but we have not planned yet,” he Chogyal Norbu said.

“With an increased production, the scope of organic chilli in Samtse is high and the farmers have also scope of earning extra income from chilli cultivation,” he added.

Meanwhile, farmers have also started working relentlessly on chilli cultivation after understanding its value following the country’s imposed ban on the import of chilli.

Hem Bdr. Ghalley, 21 from Namgaycholing gewog, has started chilli cultivation on his 15 decimals land. “We are working hard hoping for better returns. The government has provided enough support to us. It is an opportunity for us to earn,” he said. He plans to cultivate on a mass scale from next year.

Namgaycholing Gup Ratna Bdr. Ghalley said the gewog has provided necessary assistance and the farmers have also started investing efforts. Most of the farmers in his gewog have started chilli cultivation. “The farmers are working hard and we will support with necessary measures,” he said.

Tashichholing gewog, meanwhile, selected the groups of farmers and have supplied saplings from the nursery. There are more than six farmers’ groups and a cooperative in the gewog working on chilli cultivation.

Tashichholing Gup Samir Giri said, “We are doing it and hope it will be successful.” He added that some of the plants have started yielding fruits.

Krishna Ghalley from Samtse