From Potato to Buckwheat

Phurba, 65, from Gyatsa shifted to cultivating potato recently, after decades of cultivating buckwheat. He now regrets the change.

Newfound awareness of the nutritional value of buckwheat. (Source: https://colinprior.co.uk)

 

Buckwheat cultivation is making a comeback in Bumthang, a traditional staple diet in the central valley, which in recent decades had lost out to the commercial cultivation of potatoes.

Phurba, 65, from Gyatsa shifted to cultivating potato recently, after decades of cultivating buckwheat. He now regrets the change.

Newfound awareness of the nutritional value of buckwheat

While wildlife is damaging his potato crops, buckwheat is regaining popularity because of a growing demand in the market fueled by a newfound awareness of its nutritional value. 

“As an early riser, it is painful to see others harvesting their buckwheat,” said Phurpa. “Cultivating potato brings more income with which we buy rice from India.”

Previously more than 600 acres of buckwheat fields in the four gewogs of Bumthang went under potato cultivation because it gave double the income. This year though, more than 800 acres has gone into buckwheat cultivation to meet the increasing market demand for buckwheat flour.

“Buckwheat was the staple food for the people of Bumthaaps,” said Tshering Om from Domkhar of Chumey gewog. Half of her nine-acre field is under buckwheat cultivation.

“I heard that buckwheat is gaining popularity among the higher income people due to its medicinal value,” she said.

Past perception of buckwheat as ‘a poor man’s meal’

The Mangmi of Chumey gewog, Chundu Tshering, said that in the past farmers were unable to sell buckwheat. “Buckwheat was considered ‘a poor man’s meal’,” he said.

He added that farm mechanisation made it easier for farmers in the Bumthang valley to cultivate potatoes on a commercial scale and the auction yards installed in designated areas relieved farmers of marketing the crop.

“But today, there is huge demand for buckwheat and farmers are once again taking interest in growing buckwheat,” he said.

“People are realising the nutritional value of buckwheat and the traditional food cultures of the past,” said the Agriculture Extension of Chumey gewog, Tshewang Lhamo.

She added that fallow lands were being reclaimed for buckwheat cultivation. Last year, more than 115 acres of land in Chhumey gewog cultivated buckwheat producing 101 metric tonnes (MT) of buckwheat.

The revival of buckwheat production

The dzongkhag agriculture officer, Gaylang, said that most farmers in the valley cultivated potato to sell and buy rice. But from 2009 the dzongkhag started the rehabilitation of buckwheat production.

“In 2009, the area under buckwheat was 604 acres, now we have reached 800 acres and it is increasing due to high demand in the market,” he said.

He added that they have formed groups for production and marketing and developed many buckwheat products. “It is very important to maintain crops diversity in the field to cope with climate change,” he said.

The dzongkhag is supported by the National Biodiversity Center to develop buckwheat products. It also formed the farmers’ group for the conservation and promotion of local crops.

 

By Kinley Yonten (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared in The Bhutanese.

 


Related Posts

Farmers in Bumthang Revive Buckwheat Cultivation

Buckwheat cultivation in Bumthang has been on a declining trend over the last few decades. However, the district is now...

Oct 14, 2017 06:10

Eastern Farmers Cashing In On Watermelon Cultivation

Farmers said that growing watermelons is easier than cultivating other cash crops like chillies and potatoes, since...

Jan 28, 2018 16:34

Growing Black Sesame in Nichula

“The weather and soil are suitable for this crop,” the manager said, adding that the Farm Machinery Centre (FMC) in...

Feb 02, 2018 07:17

Farmers in Samtse Ready To Reap Quinoa

Farmers in Samtse are gearing up to harvest quinoa, a new crop which they started cultivating on a small scale as a...

Jan 18, 2018 07:18

Gasa lives the organic dream

Organic dream to be lived in!

Jul 29, 2017 16:54

Villages in Wangdue Prepare for Kiwi Plantation

The Agriculture extension supervisor of Dakar said that people of the gewog are interested to grow kiwi due to good...

Mar 04, 2018 08:00

Latest

News

Bhutan Lifts Ban On Rupee Note, Advises Against Holding Indian Currency In Cash

Bhutanese can now bring new series of INR 500 notes in and out of Bhutan.

Jun 20, 2018 15:17

Bhutan Joins Seeds Without Borders To Import Better Quality Seeds

The seed agreement covers a number of rice-based crops such as maize, wheat, vegetables, pulses and other crops.

Jun 18, 2018 17:40

Features

63 Year Old Traditional Healer In Bhutan Has Fixed More Than A Thousand Sprains And Fractured Bones

For more than three decades, Tashi Wangdi has been fixing fractures and sprained joints in Trashigang.

Jun 23, 2018 08:43

Tsirang’s Farmers Grow Broom Grass To Combat Landslide

Coinciding with the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, the Tsirang forest division planted at least 10,000 saplings...

Jun 21, 2018 18:26

Sports

World Cup Mania Grips Some Teenagers, Adults And Monks In Bhutan

A huge crowd has gathered in front of the massive TV screen to witness the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Jun 24, 2018 18:25

Bhutanese Sonam Rigzin Played As Goalkeeper For His Team ‘King Cobra’ In The F4F World Championship In Russia

Sonam Rigzin walked into the Sapsena Arena in Russia bearing the Bhutanese national flag to open the finals.

Jun 16, 2018 08:45

Business

Interview With Bhutan Alternatives: A Social Enterprise Which Recycles Printer Cartridges

The firm also employed 17 female and 13 male employees from underprivileged families and high school dropouts.

Jun 22, 2018 10:55

Modern Beekeeping In Dophuchen Yields Much Sought-After Bhutanese Honey, Royal Jelly And More

Other by-products such as wax, royal jelly, pollen and propolis are also in healthy demand in the market.

Jun 19, 2018 18:12

Travel

Six Senses Bhutan Preparing For October 2018 Opening

Three of the five Six Senses luxury lodges are now taking reservations for travel starting on Nov 3, 2018.

Jun 21, 2018 10:01

Heat Maps Illustrate the Sacred Routes of Buddhist Pilgrims

In Strava’s heat maps, the devotional movements of tired pilgrims become blazing symbols of sacred geography.

Jun 18, 2018 09:32

Lifestyle

‘Do You Know Your Child’ A Popular Show In Bhutan Helps Parents Bond Better With Their Kids

Since its inception in 2013, about 264 Bhutanese children have participated in the show.

Jun 20, 2018 18:43

Mountain Echoes Literary Festival Returns On Aug 23 - Here's Why You Should Attend

This year's festival celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India.

Jun 15, 2018 00:32

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!