Nima | Gelephu

An increasing number of farmers in Sarpang are taking up commercial vegetable farming but the operators are also charging exorbitant fees.

Most farmers hire machinery from Farm Machinery Co-operation Limited (FMCL).

Lhakpa Tamang from Dargaythang in Shompangkha gewog said that the farmers have to pay machine-hiring charge for seven hours although the operators work on the farm for only five hours.

“Farmers are suffering a huge loss,” said Lhakpa Tamang.

On his 9-acre land, Lhakpa Tamang has taken up commercial winter vegetable farming.

The demand for farm machinery has increased over the years in Sarpang.

FMCL hires seasonal operators to meet the demand.

The seasonal operators are paid Nu 600 per day. Farmers pay Nu 2,900 per seven hours for hiring the farm machinery. The operators have to work at least seven hours for full daily payment.

Regional Manager with FMCL, Kinley Zangmo, said there were complaints from the gewog extension office regarding the hiring charges. “The seasonal operators, hired mostly during peak farming season, have to return machinery to the centre by the evening. This created the problem,” he said.

She added that the problem arose when seasonal operators were deployed. The centre had also advised farmers to form a group to make the hiring process more convenient.

“They have to travel for over 17 kilometres from the gewog and the operators hurry to reach the machines back to the centre in the evening,” said Kinley Zangmo. “There have not been complaints regarding the contract operators.”

Also, with most of the machines experiencing frequent breakdowns, the hiring services are delayed, according to the official.

Most farm machinery at the centre are old and not in a good condition, according to the official.

There are over 10 contract operators at FMCL today.

To encourage the farmers to take up machinery hiring individually, FMCL plans to reduce the number of machinery, creating more opportunities for the farmers to take up farm machinery hiring units.