Monday, December 28, 2015

Bulb Onion cultivation in east to curtail imports

Tanden Zangmo/Thimphu

Bulb onion cultivation in the eastern region has proven to be a successful venture and the

shops nearby has now been replaced by local variety as the mass cultivation is increasing

in the region.

As part of boosting home production of onion, the RDC Wengkhar has initiated the bulb

onion cultivation in the country few years ago and this year the mass cultivation has

initiated in Trashigang from this month.

The wetland remaining fallow during the winter months are being utilized for bulb onion

cultivation and most farmers have expressed that the paddy and onion cropping system

suits best in irrigated wetland.

According to the Research Officer with the RNR RDC Wengkhar, Kinley Tshering,

initiative of Research and Development Centre (RDC), Wengkhar under Ministry of

Agriculture and Forests have enrolled many eastern farmers in mass bulb onion


He said that the commercial production started to take advantage of the current scenario

in the Country where the vegetable is heavily imported although Country has huge

production potential.

The potentiality was proven by a study undertaken by RDC in the past which found out

that onion production helped farmers generate net returns of Nu. 60,000-126,450 per


He said that the intervention has also received positive interest from farmers since it can

be cultivated in wetlands after paddy is harvested, which otherwise are left fallow.

Hence, the onion cultivation goes well as relay crop in the paddy based farming system in

potential areas of the eastern region.

The intervention according to him was driven by the need to minimize not only huge

quantity of the import but also boost domestic production of vegetables in line with the

commercial vegetable production initiated by Department of Agriculture (DoA).

When asked about the advantage of onion cultivation over other cash crops, Kinley

Tshering said that growing of onion was easier than the other cash crops since the crop  is

less damage by wild animals during the fallow phase and in addition the crop remain

unaffected by major pests and diseases.

 “Onion cultivation is easy and entail less hard work” Kinley Tshering said.

The area under onion cultivation has increased from 19 acres to 29 acres in 2014 in

addition to increase in the number of households from 133 in 2013 to 226 households in

2014. The project initially implemented mainly in Lhuentse and Trashigang.

Similarly the production has also increased from 36.3 tonnes in 2013 to 44.6 in 2014, a

year after. Among the dzongkhags, Samdrupjongkhar has led the production producing

almost 50 percent of the total onion production. The increasing trend was also observed

in other Dzongkhags.

In the marketing front, farmers were able to sell about 50 percent of the onion they

produced in both the years bringing home a cash income of Nu.0.545 million to Nu.0.753

million in respective years.

Farmers in Samdrupjongkhar have minted the highest income in 2013 amounting to Nu.

0.256 million which Lhuentse has took over in 2014 with 0.201million income generated.

Lately Mongar too observed a drastic increase in income generated compared to the

previous season.

In addition, it is felt that no frequent intercultural operations are required except for about

2-3 weeding and irrigation during the entire season and can be sold as green vegetable

like spring onions in late March and April when green vegetable are not readily available

Encouraged by such success, the RDC, Wengkhar is further planning to bring more areas

under bulb onion cultivation by exploring other areas where onion can be cultivated in

the similar manner.

The bulb site and the farmers for growing onion growing was done with the geog

Agriculture extension after which seeds of variety bulb onion variety called Pune Red

was procured from National Seed Centre, Paro. The funding support for seed

procurement was given by RGoB, HRDP-JICA and MAGIP.

The Research team from RDC Wengkhar, RDSC khangma under Trashigang dzongkhag

in collaboration with with dzongkhag agriculture sector in Trashigang has already

completed onion cultivation in seven  low lying places under Trashigang dzongkhag.

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