Rinchen Zangmo | Tsirang

Farmer Man Bir Chuwan of Dunglagang could expand his cash crop business.

A beneficiary of the agriculture land development programme in Tsirang, the farmer, 29,  received three more acres. The land was developed and handed over to the farmer.

Man Bir has three acres of land where he had been growing kiwi, avocado, hazelnut, ground apple, and vegetables. He had applied for agriculture land development last year when he heard of the programme that began in Lhuentse.

Through the agriculture land development programme, three acres of his land which were not used and deemed unfit for agriculture were developed into agriculture land near his house in lower Dangray in Dunglagang.

“Most part of land was on a slope and not feasible for farming activities. So far, such land was not used for cultivation,” he said.

He said that such a programme would help interested farmers to explore and engage in commercial cultivation. “For people like us, we would have the opportunity to do more in the field of agriculture.”

He said that people preferred organic and fresh products today. “Fruits, crops and vegetables produced in the dzongkhag are popular in the market.”

Tsirang has suitable weather and good climatic conditions. These conditions make it even easier for farmers in the region to focus on agriculture.

Man Bir Chuwan started farming right after his graduation in 2016 from Gaeddu College of Business Studies. He took up farming as his livelihood.

The Dzongkhag’s agriculture sector initiated the land development programme around September this year to ensure effective and sustainable use of agriculture land, make agriculture farming an attractive source of livelihood, and to protect agriculture land from conversion to other land uses.

The agriculture sector targets converting about 250 acres for agriculture purposes in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. So far more than 20 acres of land had been turned into agriculture land.

District’s agriculture officer, Dorji Gyeltshen, said large parcels of land were left under-utilised. “The programme aims to turn the slopes into terraces so that people could be able to cultivate.”

He said that many farmers engaged in small-scale farming. “If we make redevelop the land where small machines like power tillers can be used, then, it would create opportunities for large-scale farming. It would be feasible for mechanisation.”

Records with the district’s agriculture department show that about 864 acres of wetland and about 1,900 acres of dry land were fallow or unused in the dzongkhag today.

Besides establishing a common approach and practice for agriculture land development in the country, the programme aims at contributing towards enhancing national food and nutrition security, make agriculture land more resilient to climate change and help reduce rural-urban migration.

The programme also looks into contributing towards achieving targets set by global agreements and sustainable development goals.

Dorji Gyeltshen said that the programme would include 11 gewogs. “The machines and fuel are provided by the dzongkhag, while the labour is provided by the gewog.”

The dzongkhag provides excavators to convert unused land into agriculture land.