Most clients returned home to take up farming after Covid-19

Chimi Dema | Tsirang

Following the establishment of the National Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Development Bank in February, more than 30 people from Tsirang have applied for the loan.

The majority of the applicants were those engaged in agriculture and livestock-related activities that include vegetable production, food processing, dairy, layer poultry farming and procurement of agriculture equipment.

The bank has so far approved 32 projects worth over Nu 8.8 million (M) with Nu 5.6M disbursed for 18 projects already.

For the remaining projects, the district CSI Bank’s focal person, Kinlay Wangdi, said that the funding would be disbursed within two weeks.

Many have applied for non-formal rural financing with the ceiling of Nu 500,000.

Among the applicants were a few individuals affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and who returned to their villages to engage in commercial farming.

A thangka painter and exporter, Minjur Dorji, returned to Gosarling to help his parents and also take up commercial farming until the situation improves.

Currently, he is waiting for the CSI loan to expand commercial farming on more than three-acre land.

Minjur Dorji said that after his business was hit hard by the current pandemic, there was no alternative source of income in the town.

“I couldn’t export my products,” he said, adding that it has been almost six months since his business was affected.” He is planning to carry out modern farming and grow vegetables with hybrid seeds, which is expected to fetch better prices.

Nima Tshering, a freelance guide, who returned to his village in Kilkhorthang gewog a month ago availed CSI loan and bought mini power tiller besides other necessities.

With the financial assistance, he said he could begin farming on time. Having raised a nursery, Nima Tshering is now preparing land for transplantation of vegetable saplings.

Another tour guide and a businessperson, Karma Thinley, have also applied for CSI loan to begin chilli production in Semjong.

Given the demand for chilli in the market, he said that he was planning to grow the vegetable on one-acre land with greenhouse.

Passang Tenzin, a farmer from Tsirangtoe, has started layer poultry farming with the CSI loan. He said that he was helping his parents grow vegetables in the past. Today, he has 500 egg laying poultry birds in his farm and he is expecting to hit the market by the next month.

Bank officials said applicants increased after many sectors and businesses were affected by the pandemic. Majority of them were youth between aged 20 and 30 years old.

In its effort to boost vegetable production, Tsirang dzongkhag officials have submitted a proposal to the government for a bigger project.

The dzongkhag agriculture sector has also identified over 350-acre land in 12 gewogs for commercial farming.

The dzongkhag targets to produce about 5,000MT of vegetables this year.