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 Nichula is the only agency to cultivate sesame on a large scale.
The Farm Machinery Centre (FMC) in Nichula, Dagana will grow black sesame on 70-acres of land this season.
The increase comes after the success the centre saw after growing the sesame on eight acres of land in the 2016 season.
However, Nichula is plagued by wild animal attacks. The FMC opted for sesame cultivation because wild animals do not feed on the crop.
Good yield from cultivating black sesame
Last season, the centre cultivated 40-acres of black sesame. The yield was good, the centre’s manager Pema Wangyel, said.
“The weather and soil are suitable for this crop,” the manager said, adding that the FMC is the only agency to cultivate sesame on a large scale.
Currently, the centre is busy threshing the seeds. Pema Wangyel said that they are expecting more than 3,600kg of sesame seeds from the harvest. Black sesame is planted in July and harvested in November and December.
After the seeds are separated, they are transported to Paro, where it is processed into oil. In the 2016 season, the FMC harvested 739kg of sesame seeds and produced 195 litres of oil.
A litre of sesame oil costs Nu 450. Four kilograms of sesame seeds produce a litre of oil.
The price is cheaper in Bhutan compared to imported sesame oil. The marketing of Bhutan’s sesame oil is done in collaboration with the department of agricultural marketing and cooperatives (DAMC).
The FMC in Nichula is also encouraging the farmers to take up sesame farming. Should farmers cultivate on a large scale, the FMC would also buy the seeds.
The FMC, in the meantime, also offers employment opportunities for the residents of Nichula and Karmaling.
Plans to expand the plantation of black sesame in Bhutan
Sesame plantation will also be tried in the provinces of Phuentshothang and Samdrupjongkhar in the near future.
It is about two years now since the FMC has cleared about 200 acres of unused government lands for agricultural activities in Nichula. Paddy, maize and mustard have also been cultivated.
However, elephants caused severe damages to such crops. The electric fences that the FMC have installed were also destroyed by lighting last year.
Farm manager, Pema Wangyel said that they would install electric fences that would have the capacity to ward off the elephants this year.
Moreover, irrigation and transportation are still major problems for the FMC and farmers in Nichula. The FMC and agriculture extension office are planning for better irrigation but nothing is concrete at the moment.
By Rajesh Rai in Nichula (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)