Fall in Chiraito price hurting farmersFor six years, Devi Maya Tamang has been engaged in chiraito (Swertia chirayita) farming.
For six years, Devi Maya Tamang has been engaged in chiraito (Swertia chirayita) farming.
The income earned from chiraito farming has allowed the 32 year old farmer to replace plantation crops like potato, soybean and buckwheat with chiraito and even expand her cultivation area to 22 ropanis from six.
Her family of five was able to live comfortably off income generated from sales of chiraito, even managing to set aside savings.
The good times did not last long for Tamang though. For the past two years, she has faced a barrage of problems including plant disease that has seen the price of chiraito plunging significantly.
Chiraito that used to sell for nearly Rs 40,000 per 40 kg now fetch only Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000.
“While chiraito farming has remained problematic due to disease, prices has also dropped sharply,” said Tamang, “It is getting difficult for us to fulfill daily needs.” Tamang cultivated 480 kg of chiraito this year and sold it for Rs 12,000 per 40 kg. Ladorchi Sherpa has a similar tale of woe. Plant disease decimated nearly half of his chiraito crop grown on 10 ropanis of land but he did manage to sell the ones that survived at a much lower price. Chiraito, a major cash crop, has made farmers fear for their livelihoods as prices continue to drop.
Chiraito is cultivated at an altitude of 1,700 – 3,000 metres in Bhojpur district.
It is cultivated in places like Sadananda, Temkemaiyung and Aamchwok. Most of the production in the region is exported to India, China and Bangladesh, said Temlum Sherpa, one of the farmers in the region.
The herb is used as an ingredient in the production of medicine. It is considered to be good for people suffering from diabetes.People also use it to get relief from headache.