Govt. to spend Nu 8.126mn for national vegetable program

With the import ban of chili, beans and cauliflower, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) has shifted focus to increasing the internal production of these banned vegetables, during the winter season.

The National Vegetable Program expends Nu 8.126Mn for the financial year 2018-19. The major expenditure is on hybrid chili seeds and protected cultivation inputs of production program for the second season, this year.

The program was implemented in 56 gewogs under the eight dzongkhags and three FMCL farms benefiting a total of 1,317 households with actual cultivated area of 364.34 acres. Besides winter chili production, the dzongkhags were also supported with seeds for cauliflower of 240 acres cultivated area and beans of 314.63 acres productions.

According to the DoA, with the experience gained from first season, the production methods and protected cultivation coupled with efficient water use were promoted in the winter chili growing areas.

The production for the second year from an area of 364.34 acres was recorded at 219.17 metric tons with an income of Nu 32.876mn.

The gross benefit from the program against the total expenditure as of May this year is Nu 24.989Mn at average market price of Nu 150 per kg. “The farmers involved in the production program also expressed that it was worth growing winter chilies despite many abiotic and biotic challenges they faced,” the agriculture official said.

Meanwhile, there was 13% increase in area under cultivation with 56% increase in total production in the year 2018-19 seasons when compared to 2017-18 season. The total investment made for the program for two years was Nu. 30.436mn.

At the average market price of Nu 150 per kg of green chilies sold by farmers, the total gross return from the program was Nu 53.972mn.

According to the DoA, overall investment for the first year was Nu 21.588mn, with the actual production was 140.64MT. With the market price of Nu 200 per kg, the estimated return was Nu 28.128mn with a profit of Nu 5.579mn.

Likewise, the total targeted area for the production is 630 acres for winter chili production 2019-20. The hybrid chili seeds were supplied to 11 dzongkhags worth Nu 2.1mn.

The department has identified protected agriculture as one of the enterprises to promote in the 12th FYP. “In order to counterbalance the impact of climate change, facilitate year-round production, intensive cultivation, efficient use of water and other inputs, agriculture technologies is a viable option,” the agriculture official said.

The official added that the technology has the potential to attract young entrepreneurs into agriculture sector, create employment and provide agriculture-based enterprise development.

However, the use of poly-houses has been increasing over the past year for nursery and vegetable production during off-season. “During the financial year of 2018-19, we were able to support and promote 28 sets of pre-fabricated greenhouses worth of Nu 1.686mn to the farmers and institutions on cost sharing basis to enhance year round production vegetables,” he said.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu