Nima | Gelephu

Four years after Tarayana Foundation supported a group of farmers in Shariphu of Singye gewog, Sarpang, to produce reusable plates and bowls using areca nut leaves, people are still waiting for the project to start.

A small production house where the machinery sets were supposed to be installed is empty and filled with old clothes. A small part of the roof is torn. The unit was not used even for a day.

Plate-making hydraulic machinery was stored in the house for the past four years until an official from the foundation lifted the machinery for repair recently.

A group member said that it was disappointing to see the project remaining incomplete and idle. “We hope the plan comes through. Farmers worked for almost two weeks and contributed planks to build the house.”

She said that the group reported the need to install the machine to the former coordinator repeatedly. “The official told that he was coming but he never came. We heard that he left the foundation now. We couldn’t contact him later.”

Tarayana Foundation supported the group to buy the machinery and required equipment. However, the machinery was not even put to work for a day.

It is being taken to Tsirang for repair today.

A farmer leased the land to the group of 34 farmers for free to set up the unit.

There are over 35 households in Shariphu. Most people from the remote village in Singye depends on areca nut for cash.

While the nuts were exported, leaves from areca nut trees remain discarded and it turns into a mosquitoes breeding source when it rains.

“The project would have helped us in reducing malaria and dengue-related cases and help us earn additional revenue. It would make us financially stable,” a villager said.

Singye Gup Lachu Man Rai, said that the project could have benefitted people and also replace plastic plates and mugs in the gewog. “We could also sell to other gewogs. There was a good market for it.”

He said that the machinery and equipment were monitored last month. “The officials found out that it couldn’t be used. It will be returned to the group after the maintenance.”

Farmers in Singye prefer to grow areca nut as the damage from the wildlife is minimum on the cash crop.

Field officer Namgay said that the machine would be returned to the group next year as it was difficult to get the spare parts and technical person for the repair.

He said two field officers who were supposed to implement the project resigned and the machine kept in the house was not well-taken care.  “We are asking the former officers about the project. No proper hand taking was done and we don’t know the project well.”

He said the project needs bigger houses. There are five different sets of equipment.

Namgay said the gewog and dzongkhag assured to help build a better structure.

Edited by Tashi Dema