Broom Grass Farm­ing and Mak­ing, an al­ter­na­tive source of in­come in Sarpang

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Sarpang: The Broom grass, sci­en­tif­i­cally known asThysanolaena max­ima, has emerged as one of the most widely cul­ti­vated cash crops in Gakidling geog. It is from Poaceae fam­ily and com­monly known as ku­cho/ am­lisho, in south­ern Bhutanese lan­guage. It is grown in the mar­ginal fal­low lands by two non-wood for­est prod­uct (NWFP) groups of Sangkha and lower Muga vil­lages.

The vil­lagers cul­ti­vate ku­cho as a mixed crop for its in­flo­res­cences or clus­ters of flow­ers that are used for mak­ing brooms. It pro­vides fod­der dur­ing the lean pe­riod ev­ery year as well. Broom grass is a unique gift, an eco-friendly prod­uct that brings the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties closer to na­ture from the start of each day as one cleans the floor with broom grass ev­ery morn- ing.

Sangkha vil­lage is the largest pro­ducer of brooms in the geog and caters to the lo­cal In­dian traders. Cul­ti­va­tion of broom grass is com­par­a­tively easy and re­quires only small fi­nan­cial in­puts. It is grown on mar­ginal lands and waste­lands. It grows well on a wide range of soils from sandy loam to clay loam. The plant­ing can be done by rhi­zomes. The har­vest­ing starts from Fe­bru­ary and con­tin­ues till March end. The prod­uct is sold dur­ing March and April.

Broom grass cul­ti­va­tion has the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate lo­cal em­ploy­ment and can be used to en­hance ru­ral in­come. It con­sti­tutes a source of in­come for Sherpa, Mon­gar and Rai fam­i­lies in the busi­ness. The Sangkha peo­ple be­gan sell­ing broom grass from 2012 with­out form­ing a group. They formed a NWFP group in 2013. Fol­low­ing this, lower Muga also formed a NWFP group. The prod­uct is sold through open auc­tion.

Some of the chal­lenges en­coun­tered by groups in­clude the var­ied broom size and length, ab­sence of Bhutanese bid­ders, only few lo­cal In­dian traders were avail­able dur­ing auc­tion, sus­tain­abil­ity of cane which is used in huge quan­tity for ty­ing the broom and low quan­tity of prod­ucts for sup­ply among oth­ers.

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