Posted on: 08 June 2021
Updates: Bumthang Dzongkhag with its suitable climate for soft fruits like strawberry could take up commercial scale straw berry production. Currently, there are only few farmers on commercial scale due to which it is an expensive fruit and moreover, the volume is so low that not much comes to in the local market.
In order to provide a viable income source for farmers, ARDC Wengkhar in 2019-20 with the Dzongkhag and gewog agriculture sector began an introduction program for Sweet Charlie variety propagated at ARDSC Khangma from the mother stock maintained at the subcentre. A total of some 1500 seedlings were distributed to 5 farmers.
Five farmers in Tang ( 1 ), Chumey ( 2 ) and Chokhor ( 2 ) took part in the outreach program initiated to demonstrate cultivation practices, develop seedlings from runners and expand so that farmers could easily get seedlings from the gewogs. The Dzongkhag has incorporated strawberry as one of the potential crops for commercialization in the Dzongkhag and have also identified one of the growers to lead the expansion of the crop by initiating a farmer to farmer expansion following the concepts of Lead Farmer Approach in the coming season. All 5 framers are currently multiplying seedlings.
Amongst the five sites, In Tang, a youth farmer who took up the cultivation has shown success. With the 300 seedlings received, a totals of some 2500 seedlings were produced and the farm has now expanded. Fruits from the farm are sold as fresh fruits at the local market in Chamkhar at the local produce outlet – Bhutan Shop in Chamkhar. The growers sell at whole sale price of Nu. 100 per box (360 g). This year’s income as of May this year is about Nu. 15, 000 from 2 langdos of land covered so far. Currently the farmer is multiplying 10, 000 seedlings for the Dzongkhag for replication of the program in other gewogs. Starting from this year, the growers plans to further increase and focus on fruit production and reduce seedling production to ensure optimum yield.
No major pests were observed and with increasing demand of fresh fruits, future potentials of this crops is high. However, its adoption and expansion will take a slow pace as most available land is cultivated with potato and thus, strawberry expansion could perhaps be only limited to 1 to 2 langdos of land in their back yards. Even promoting at this scale for all households could contribute to making strawberry a common crop in Bumthang.
– Deki Dema and Sonam Gyeltshen, Bumthang Dzongkhag and compiled by Research Communications, ARDC Wengkhar