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