Green House Initiative Benefits Highlanders
“With the introduction of green houses in the region, it’s much more convenient and cost saving for us because we don’t have to purchase vegetables all the way from Punakha and we also don’t have to consume dried vegetables most of the time."
With the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF) to bring about food self - sufficiency among the highlanders, the introduction of vegetable production through the green house method is benefiting the inhabitants of Laya where they do not have to depend on vegetables from Gasa and Punakha.
At the same time, they do not have to depend on dried vegetables to get through the lean season of vegetable production due to harsh climatic conditions, especially in winter.
Guidance provided by the Agriculture Extension Office
The Agriculture Extension Office helps the households in the region in setting up greenhouses by providing free materials required for the poly houses, distributing suitable vegetable seeds, and providing trainings on the vegetable management and operational aspects of plastic houses for better cultivation through such means.
“To save cost on both ends, we urge the individual households to make-do with the locally available woods as poles to support the house, other than that everything are being taken care of by the extension office.
We provide crop seeds which can endure the harsh cold weather like radish, cabbage, broccoli, turnip, spinach and carrots.
Last year we have experimented with chilli cultivation on a smaller scale and it was a success.
“So we will be encouraging the households for a larger production of chillies now,” said Tshering Samdrup, the Gewog Extension Officer.
The Gewog Extension Officer added that although the locals grew fewer vegetables in their kitchen garden earlier, it was not enough to last them through the harsh winters as some crops were destroyed by the frost and snow.
Marketing extra-crops produced
“Our main objective is to achieve food self-sufficiency and if the locals grow more than what they can consume, they can earn some extra income by selling their produce to tourists, schools in the region, gewog staffs or the visitors who come to attend the festivals.
Through the market of their produce during the highland festival, the locals on an average earned about Nu 22, 000 in a week.
“Since chilli was experimented and produced on a small scale, the locals could not meet the demand this year, but they will brace for larger cultivation next year.”
Benefits for tourists at local homestays
Ap Khandu, who entertains homestays at his place said, “With the introduction of green houses in the region, it’s much more convenient and cost saving for us because we don’t have to purchase vegetables all the way from Punakha and we also don’t have to consume dried vegetables most of the time. I can also serve my guest with fresh vegetables from my garden without having to depend on the unreliable vegetable source from Punakha.”
By Sonam Yangdon (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)