Agriculture: Around 200 acres of government land has been cleared and fenced  for farming activities in the five villages of Gangtokha (Daragaon) chiwog, Nichula gewog in Dagana.

Similarly, about 300 acres of land has also been cleared in Bhangtar for agricultural activities.

Farmers in Gangtokha are already reaping the benefits with wild animals staying away and employment opportunities emerging.

The Farm Machinery Centre Ltd (FMCL) is carrying out this project. FMCL began providing their services in June.

Farmers are also able to hire the centre’s machines which allows them to improve and speed up farm work.

So far, 20 acres of unused land have been converted into paddy fields.

The official who is spearheading the FMCL project in Gangtokha, Jambay Wangdi said import substitution of vegetables and other farm products is one of the main objectives of the government.

“The government will identify unused lands that have potential for farming and make it usable for agricultural purposes,” he said.

“The plan is to ready the land so that people can take over.”

Jambay Wangdi added that after clearing and farming, all required facilities would be provided. Irrigation water is a key requirement in Gangtokha.

For now, FMCL is managing with water pumps to supply the paddy fields. Eventually, FMCL will have in place a permanent water supply system. Two surveys, for this purpose, have already been carried out.

The plan is to hand over the project to a farmers’ or youth group once it is complete.

A Gangtokha farmer, Budhiman Rai, said the FMCL project is a real boon for the villagers. “Not only from Gangtokha, people from Balabas, another village of Karmaling gewog are also benefiting,” he said. “They are employed now.”

Budhiman Rai said farmers living near the government land that have been cleared are encouraged. “If the centre can bring and supply water through a channel, it will be of immense benefit,” Budhiman Rai said.

Meanwhile, FMCL has also cultivated 50 acres of maize. At present, the centre and its team are working on cultivating chillies and potatoes.

FMCL will market the produce across the country if the harvest allows. However, it is yet to be determined if the electric fencing installed can keep away elephants and wild boars.

Gangtokha is frequently targeted by elephants. FMCL is planning to strengthen the fencing in collaboration with the villagers.

The project will be expanded to other areas in other chiwogs.

Rajesh Rai | Lhamoizingkha