Choki Wangmo | Dagana

To expand their commercial farming, a youth group in Samarchu, Dagana, proposed to lease 11.40 acres of state land nearby their farm in March this year.

Bimal Gurung, 24, and his two brothers have planted 24,000 winter chilli saplings in their six nurseries. It is ready to be transplanted.

The brothers said they are now confused since concerned authorities did not provide any directives about the land lease.

“I am worried that saplings would go into waste once the cultivation season ends,” one of the brothers, Bimla Subba said.

He said they spent more than Nu 100,000 to construct greenhouses on a cost-sharing basis. “We need to know whether the National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS)  has approved our proposal.”

The three brothers, who dropped out of school and started commercial chilli farming last year in their three-acre land.

They said the dzongkhag has encouraged them to expand their commercial agriculture and even provided plastic mulching, seeds, and nurseries.

They are expected to transplant the saplings by this month-end or at the beginning of next month.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, DC Bhandari, said they wrote to the agriculture ministry seeking intervention. “The proposal was forwarded to NLCS.”

Tshendagang gewog’s agriculture officer, Bikash Tamang, said winter chilli production has become critical since the gewog was working towards off-season production. “We were supposed to get the response in July.”

He said if the land lease got approved within 15 days, the brothers won’t run into losses.

It was learnt that agriculture minister Yeshey Penjore responded that while the ministry was insisting on land lease for commercial farming, NLCS encourages the use of private fallow land.

There are 67,000 acres of private fallow land in the country.

Meanwhile, an official from NLCS said that last week he asked the dzongkhag and gewog to resubmit the area’s geolocations to ensure that the land would not be required for other purposes. “We will review the documents and communicate the decision within a week.”

Edited by Tashi Dema