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My Father & His Potatoes

My father is a passionate farmer. I haven’t seen a man so hard working and so dedicated for a cause. Growing potato is no man’s ‘cup of tea’. You need to first till the soil, for countless times, put manure, spread the seeds and then make endless beds. After plantation is done, he had to sleep in the fields, for the whole season of the crop, safeguarding the crop from wild animals such as boars. During those sleep-over, our family dog, Blackie, is his sole companion. Every night, right after dinner, he’d leave for the fields, with Blackie tagging along, like an obedient servant.
On the sloppy land, behind our house, the potato fields stretch for acres. In between those vast fields, he had built himself a small hut with a space just enough for a bed. Besides the hut is another tiny hut with only a roof above, for Blackie. The duo remains alert most nights, pricking their ears to any tiny sound of boars and other animals, fearing his hard labor might go down the drain.
At harvesting time, I was present myself for a day. My father literally glowed with pleasure and pride, never failing to compliment his big and red potatoes, odd shaped potatoes and others. The man seemed so energetic uprooting potatoes, encouraging others and talking of the big money he could fetch with his crop like last year and contemplating what all things he’d buy with the money.
A week later he was in Phuentsholing auctioning his potatoes, in the FCB yard. The potato prices plummeted there due to the good yield from the Indian state of West Bengal or so they said. He could fetch only Nu. 830 per sack or 50 Kilos. For god’s sake, he bought the seeds, 3 months ago, at Nu. 1000 per sack , hoping for better yields. It was all to less for his hard labor, missing the warmth of his home at night, the wages he had paid to so many laborers he had hired etc.
Later that day, he was on the phone with me from Phuentsholing. Though he didn’t mention his hopelessness, I could hear tears in his voice. I felt truly sorry for my poor, deflated father then. The man seemed pissed and disappointed with the end result.
In the beginning of the season, we’d always discourage him against planting so many acres of potatoes but no amount of persuasion works with him when his mind is made up. He was adamant on having his way, hoping to make big money. However, the unfavorable potato prices have achieved the unachievable; it made my father realize it was all not worth the sweat.
In the end, I still feel sorry for my father and all potato planters in general, for the losses it has incurred. If this trend continues in the future, I’m sure no farmer would want to plant potatoes. This incident/event is very discouraging for our hardworking Bhutanese farmers. All we can do now is to keep our fingers crossed, and pray for better yields and favorable prices the next seson for what’s happened has already happened.

Comments (2) on "My Father & His Potatoes"

  1. I liked it but felt sad for poor dad… i should let him stop his passion and be idle for some time.. too bad

  2. My father may not be a rich man but proud. he'd rather work and earn than rely on others for his livelihood, be it his daughters or relatives.
    thanks for liking my article.

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