The initiative is also aimed to bring back unemployed youths

Initiative: Villagers of Choekhorling gewog are growing cassava on about 58 acres of land in a bid to generate more income.

Initiated by Tulku Jamphel Dorji, one of the sons of late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, the income generated from cassava plantation is to be distributed equally among the community.

Known as the green hills cassava plantation group has around 21 members as of now. The members are busy these days taking care of the plantation besides having to work in their respective fields.

Mangmi Jigme said they adopted mass cassava cultivation because there was no other source of income in the village after the mandarin production failed since the past few years.

Villagers refused to take up poultry or piggery farming given the religious sentiments attached to it. They grow only maize but for self-consumption.

Jigme said cassava plants are usually harvested a year after cultivation. Villagers would then process the tapioca into flour and sell it in the market. “They have already talked about it with some bakery owners in Thimphu,” he said.

“We had to manage the seedling from other gewogs as the agriculture office didn’t have it,” Jigme said. “We also tried baking a cake from tapioca in one of the bakeries in Thimphu and it was successful.”

Villagers said that instead of wasting cassava plants like before, they decided to utilise it properly as a means of income. However, villagers are still looking for seedlings to fill the entire field.

The dzongkhag agriculture sector has also helped villagers with electric fencing, as the area is prone to wildlife attack.

The initiative is also aimed to bring back unemployed youths who leave the villages in search of jobs.

“Our only worry is if we would be able to meet the demand once we start to market the tapioca since there is a huge demand,” Jigme said.

Meanwhile, villagers have also formed a vegetable group for the first time known as the Green Hills Vegetable Cultivation. The initiative is expected benefit the local community by adopting natural farming.

Vegetables like potatoes, chillies, radish and cabbages would be distributed equally among members besides selling them to the institutions at a reasonable price, if produced excessively.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Nganglam