Looking for opportunities

Chimi Dema  | Tsirang

As the tourism and allied sectors remain affected from the Covid-19 pandemic, some people working in urban areas have returned to their villages to engage in commercial farming.

A freelance cultural and nature guide, Nima Tshering has returned to his village in Sa-Tsangma in Kilkhorthang gewog, Tsirang to begin commercial vegetable farming.

He said that although there are several financial supports being granted to individuals affected by the pandemic, there were many others who are in need more than him.

“I have been shortlisted to receive financial support but there are other guides who are the lone provider of their families,” he said, adding that he decided to return home as he was also keen on taking up farming.

Having raised a nursery, Nima Tshering is now preparing land for transplantation of vegetable saplings. He has two and a half-acre land for cultivation.

He said that he would grow vegetables initially that are running short in the market.

“If vegetables like chilli, cabbage and broccoli could be produced in a few months, it could help reduce the impact of food import that we are facing currently,” he said. “But I have a plan to grow mushroom and other varieties in the future.”   

With financial support from the Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Development Bank, Nima Tshering is aiming to carry out farming activities for life.

Another former tourism employee, Migma Dorji Lama, from the same village returned home a month ago.

As the lone child in the family, he said that he was now going to be in the village helping his ageing parents and look after the family farming.

He is engaged in land development activity and is planning to avail loans to take up farming on the one-acre field.

Chandra Prasad Khandal from Dekiling in the gewog,  who used to work in a hardware store in Paro is also now back to the village for good.

He said that farming has become very lucrative. “But in my place, there is a shortage of water. I would have taken up large-scale vegetable farming if I had enough water.”

Kilkhorthang Gup Beda Moni Chamlagai said that there were a few others in his gewog who have come back home to start vegetable farming.

“Now with the government providing support for agricultural and rural activities, more people are expected to come back to take up farming,” he said.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag is also exploring ways to boost vegetable production.

Tsirang dzongdag, Pema, said that since the capital work such as infrastructure construction would be hindered in the wake of the pandemic, the budget has been reappropriated to support agricultural activities to boost production.

He said that officials from the agriculture ministry have also visited the dzongkhag to discuss the initiative. Tsirang is known for vegetables despite being the unofficial Egg Capital of the country.

Besides re-appropriating the budget, the dzongdag said that the dzongkhag would be submitting a proposal to the government for a bigger project.

He said that the dzongkhag would carry out a stock survey to find out how much vegetables farmers could produce in the three months from April to June that could be supplied to Thimphu and to be distributed to other dzongkhags.

“We are driven to make ourselves self-reliant in terms of vegetable,” he said.

While the dzongkhag would provide the necessary support including technical guidance on seeds and fertilisers, the dzongdag said that it would be initiated in the farming communities if the dzongkhag can fulfil the goal.