Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa

Monks and agriculture. It is a sweet combination and a lesson on sustainability.

In Gasa rabdey, the monks, their robed folded high up, are preparing mushroom cultivation. Fifteen monks even underwent a two-day training on fungiculture.

The training, Umzey Tshering Dhendup said, came after the agriculture officials came to enquire if the monks would be interested in growing their own food.

“After Covid-19, we had to think about the importance of agriculture,” he said. “Monks also need such skills.”

Gasa dratshang spends about Nu 70,000 to buy vegetables every month. The expenditure is covered from the stipends the monks receive. From Nu 1,400 that each monk receives, Nu 1,000 is set aside to procure vegetables.

In a corner of the dratshang’s storehouse are 60 bags of oyster mushroom seeds. In five weeks, the dratshang can harvest at least 60kg mushroom.

A kg of oyster mushroom sells for Nu 200 in market.

“This is going to be the dratshang’s long-term project. Monk can also save a lot this way,” Tshering Dhendup said.

“Because we are studying most times, agriculture work is doable and fun. It doesn’t require a lot of hard work,” monk Tshewang Dorji said.

The dratshang has also cultivated 25-decimal land to grow radish, spinach, and beans. This is expected to help the dratshang have a fresh supply of vegetables almost all year round.

Gasa’s agriculture officer, Karma Wangchuk, said that the dzongkhag provided technical support and seeds. “Our aim is to achieve self-sufficiency.”

The dzongkhag also provided similar training to police and their families.