After completing class XII in 2017, Lobzang Wangmo, 19, returned to her village in Metedkha, Chukha, and joined five friends to explore commercial farming.

They couldn’t do much in the last one year.

The group is looking forward to the youth innovation competition (YIC) 2018, to make it possible.

Initiated by Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) at Yusipang, Thimphu, under the Department of Agriculture, YIC is training about 19 youth (11 women) from four gewogs of Chukha that are Metedkha, Dungna, Bongo, and Sampheling.

With the theme ‘empower youth to impact the future of agriculture in Bhutan’ the youth are being groomed on developing ideas about enhancing food and nutrition security.

Five innovative ideas would be selected and pitched in Thimphu. For this, a three-day mentorship course has started yesterday.

At the mentorship programme, the agriculture supervisor with the ARDC Yusipang, Tshedrup Dorji said it is a “design thinking” course.

“It will prepare the participants for the final innovation boot camp in Thimphu next month,” he said.

The best three pitches will also get technical support from the agriculture department.

Meanwhile, most of the youth participants from the four gewogs are school dropouts. They were selected for the mentorship programme based on the quality of ideas they submitted through the gewog agriculture extension offices.

Lobzang Wangmo said the mentorship programme has made her understand areas to work on prior to starting a project.

“I learned that we can study the problems related to an innovation before we have an actual idea,” she said.

Lobzang Wangmo, her cousin sister Tshewang Dema, and other four women are representing Metedkha as “Ladies Leading Group,” which was formed before the YIC initiative.

“We are working on the theme of minimising wastage of food,” Tshewang Dema said.

Making a presentation on nutrition, Metedkha participants said that the community and children didn’t care much about nutritious food and its importance. “Instead, people only focused on the taste of food,” Lobzang said.

Another participant, Sangay Choden, 18, from the Bongo gewog group said that older generation people didn’t know which food is more nutritious.

“We also import all our vegetables from India,” she said, adding that her group would work in addressing this problem.

Agriculture officers will also organise similar mentorship courses in Haa.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing