SDP: With the groundbreaking ceremony on January 14, villagers of Labar-Khengzor in Khar, Pemagatshel are all smiles, as soon their chiwog will be connected with a farm road.

The construction of a 5km farm road began yesterday.  The project is funded under the first batch of small development projects (SDP), a part of government of India’s grant assistance to Bhutan in the 11th Plan, stated a press release from the Gross National Happiness Commission.

A total budget of Nu 15M has been allocated for the farm road.

The farm road, which will connect Labar and Khengzor village, would make it possible for the people to explore the market for potato production.

It would also mean that the farmers would not have to carry their ration and walk for more than an hour.

Tshogpa Jigme Thinley said villagers have been carrying their goods until Labar, which is connected with Mukuri-Tsebar feeder road where buyers would come to buy potatoes.

“But now we can hire vehicles and then take potatoes directly to the auction yard in Samdrupjongkhar,” he said, adding villagers have also started cultivating cardamom this time to explore the market.

He said the villagers are also expecting to earn more than the Nu 15 a mon (40kg) average they earn today.

“Ever since they heard that the farm road proposal came through, many have decided to buy Boleros on loan to help establish their business,” he said.

Another village elder said, without a road and market, they grew less potato.

“Since our children live in towns, we used to grow enough for self consumption and to feed the cattle,” he said.

Each farmer produces about 40-mon of potatoes, which is harvested twice a year.  The farm road on completion will benefit 88 households.

Meanwhile, the press release also stated that a total of Nu 8,500M has been allocated for 205 gewogs.  The projects were proposed, based on their 11th Plan priorities.

“The activities under the project will consist of socio economic development, such as drinking water schemes, irrigation channels, farm roads and other infrastructure,” the press release stated.

The councillor (eco and com) for the embassy of India, Thimphu, Nina Tshering La, attended the groundbreaking ceremony along with Pemagatshel dzongda, national council member, district and gewog officials and the beneficiaries.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar