Maize; still a staple in Kheng
from maize comes in three varieties. Also, the Kheng residents beat and roast maize to make Tengma, which they package and sell. Farmers said that the winter crop is best for Tengma.
Since Zhemgang is popular for maize, a huge scope exists for commercializing maize products especially through cottage industries. But with limited income to use as capital, farmers are yet to start mass production and commercialization of maize products.
Some farmers interviewed said they would welcome any financial intervention from the authorities.
“We can produce popcorn and even Tengma for the entire country. But we are handicapped and government support is necessary for installing production plants,” said Sonam Zangpo, a farmer.
Meanwhile, the government has supplied maize drying machines to the farmers in Zhemgang to encourage cultivation.
Zhemgang Dzongkhag’s Assistant Agriculture Officer, Jambay Ugyen, said that though people are gradually changing their dietary habits with imported rice gaining popularity, maize is largely cultivated in lower Kheng.
“The dzongkhag plans to supply more machinery to encourage maize cultivation,” he said.
According to Jambay Ugyen, the government is already in the process of negotiating with livestock feed producing companies to supply surplus maize for farmers’ income generation. Plans are also in the pipeline to market surplus produce across the country.
Further, the dzongkhag is ready to distribute laborintensive equipment to the major maize growing areas.
Pangkhar and Ngangla are the two highest maize producing gewogs in the dzongkhag. Last year, Zhemgang dzongkhag recorded more than 5,300 MT of maize production.