Tenzin Lhaden & Sonam Deki
Although agriculture has always been the foundation of the nation, its significance became fully apparent during the time of pandemic, when borders were closed on March 24, 2020 that the country adopted as a preventive measure for the Covid-19 which also led to curtailing imports. Nevertheless, this swayed to re-think country’s policies and priorities where agricultural products for food self-sufficiency were undeniably on the top of the list.
The need was not confined to the policy makers alone but some of the citizens also felt the imperativeness and initiated with earnestness forgoing with their pre-pandemic professions and businesses.
Similarly, Ngawang Dorji started with the farming in Poly-house at Nganglathang, Norbugang gewog under Samtse Dzongkhag for the first time. Polyhouse farming is a cultivation of crops under complete controlled environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, fertilizers etc with the automated system. This farming enables producer to produce crops in an administered and controlled environment.
Climate controlling facilities helps producers to grow off-seasoned vegetable and fruit crops with year-round production of crops. Poly house farming can increase the crop yield 10-12 times, depending on the crop type, and management of the crop.
Owner, Ngawang Dorji said, “In Samtse, there are a lot of small polyhouses, but mine is a huge poly house. Small poly houses frequently cause the plants on top to shrink. In light of this hitch, I made the decision to build a bigger poly house. I began farming in a poly house with the idea that it would at the very least aid the community. He further added, “More importantly, my produced to be complimentary to other locally produced vegetables in our markets and lessen vegetable import dependency “.
Polyhouse farming not only enables farmers to grow crops all around the year but also control pests, diseases and insects since, farming is housed in a controlled environment. The crops can grow safely inside the poly-house. The external climate has very little or no impact on the growth of crops with higher quality of produce.
Ngawang Dorji also said, “Although we cannot make much money from it as of now however, it is enough for the community to consume but once, I gain more experience in this filed and with support from the government and stakeholders, I hope to expend my production area as well as the market to the western and other parts of the country too”.
However, recently some diseases have started affecting his crops, causing low production of crops and it has also prevented the plants to grow sufficiently.
In this regard, he said, “With the assistance from gewog, we even spoke with the Dzongkhag agriculture official about this condition, and they even suggested using medicine to spray on the plants”.
Against all odds, Ngawang Dorji remains optimistic and he hopes that more people will opt for farming and with modern technology and hybrid-seeds; crops would be more resilient to diseases and high harvest, which will culminate to country’s food self-sufficiency.
One of these was Jit Bahadur, who began poly farming in 2001. He produces high-quality
strawberries, tomatoes, and chillies, earning a respectable living.
Stated Jit Bahadur “When I used to work on Dasho Ugyen Tshering’s property, Singaporeans
would occasionally visit to take care of the farm. I participated in the poly farming training that
they provided and I began poly farming when I returned to my village. Although poly farming
produces a considerable amount of food and generates a fair income, the months of June and
July are challenging because of the frequent rains that stunt development.”
Also, Damber added “I got going in 2011. I was able to produce more with the highest quality
using poly farming. Cauliflower, cabbage, and chili are grown by us. Government has always
been there for us, giving us plastic, GI pipe, and net for free.”
Some farmers are switching from traditional farming to poly farming because of its many
benefits. The husband of Patma Galley remarked, “Due to excessive rain, we weren’t able to do much
farming, but after learning about the benefits of poly farming, I’m also hoping to try it instead of
Poly farming is a technique of growing vegetables and fruits in a controlled environment which helps farmers to produce goods in high quality and quantity.