Resort staff takes up agriculture

Nim Dorji  | Trongsa

It is not cleaning or dusting furniture or fixtures, it is not cutleries or teapots in hands, as the staff of a four-star resort in Paro shift from serving food to growing it.

With the novel coronavirus hitting them hard, staff of the Raven Resort, on the initiative of the proprietor, has taken up farming in Zhemgang. Although the staff are not new to manual work with the resort already growing its own herbs, this time they are venturing into commercial farming.

To keep the staff engaged when the business is hit, they have converted 10 acres of land in Kheng Buli into farmland. Chef Harka Man Subba is still overseeing the kitchen as he led the group in ploughing the once fallow land, fencing and planting vegetables, some of which are already well in their growing stage.

There is no shift system like in their resort, says the chef. “We go to work at around 6 am and return at 6 pm, working about 12 hours a day.” There are potatoes, corn, ginger, turmeric and other vegetables.

The proprietor, Gayley Yangzom, who is working with her staffs at the site, said they started with planting medicinal and edible herbs, but gradually shifted towards farming after Covid-19 became a pandemic. “Starting something new from scratch is never easy, especially for such a large group to settle in a new place trying to establish a productive working environment in a rural area,” she said.

The staffs, however, are enjoying their new adventure and share the excitement of converting a fallow land back to farmland.

The first products are expected to reach the market by the end of May.

Raven Resort was closed for more than three months. It was converted to a quarantine facility. Gayley Yangzom said she started the agriculture project as an alternative source of income to pay her staff. “We ran out of funds and there was a need to have the alternative income to pay the staff.”

Depending on the results of their foray into agriculture, they are mulling paddy cultivation.