Officials of Barshong gewog in Tsirang say they would soon surrender the gewog power tiller to the government soon.

They say that in the last three years, they used the Yanmar power tiller just twice. The machinery, otherwise, remained idle inside a shed in the gewog centre.   

The power tiller is wider than the size of paddy terraces and the sloppy terrain make it infeasible to use the power tiller.

In the neighboring Patshaling gewog, the power tiller distributed in 2015 was used a few times last year. Other days it remains idle. It is the size and the weight of the power tiller that deter farmers from hiring it.

Gewog agriculture extension officer (AEO) Sonam Dhendup said the gewog has about10 private power tillers (small), which are rampantly used. “If the gewog received a smaller one it may be useful. The Yanmar power tillers are not feasible for the terrain here.”

Rangthaling gewog also faces a similar problem. Since 2015, it has tilled just three-acres of land.

The power tiller is less preferred among farmers, agriculture officials said. 

Gewog agriculture extension officer, Tshering Dhendup said people prefer oxen, although the hiring charge is more than that of power tiller. The gewog power tiller is available for hire at Nu 1,400 a day whereas a pair of oxen is available for Nu 700 a day.

The terrain is slightly better in Tsholingkhar gewog and farmers also demand the machine. However, at the moment when it is peak paddy transplantation season, the power tiller has broken down. Spare parts are not easily available.

In most of the gewogs in Tsirang, the power tillers distributed by the government in 2015 have remained idle. Few gewogs of Doonglagang, Kilkhorthang and Sergithang are making use of it.

Five gewogs received the mini power tiller last year but that is used mostly to till the vegetable garden.

Gewog agriculture officers say that power tiller is demanded mostly during paddy transplantation season. But there is a need for a feasible power tiller considering the land terrain. “Otherwise we’ll only be parking power tiller in the gewog,” one of the officers pointed out.  Should the power tiller be feasible, it is one of the best services farmers have received so far in mechanising farming.

Farmers say that while it was a noble initiative of the government to distribute power tiller to the gewogs, its feasibility should have been considered.

A farmer in Gosarling gewog, Dorji Dema, recently bought a mini power tiller on her own to transplant paddy.

She said she wanted to hire the gewog’s power tiller but her paddy terraces are too small to fit the gewog’s power tiller. “I should manage my land by making wider terraces before hiring the power tiller.”

All gewogs submit a quarterly usage report to the Farm Machinery Corporation Limited’s (FMCL) power tiller focal person.

According to the report, only about four gewogs has been using the power tillers so far, that too only during plantation season.

However, FMCL will soon be distributing another 17 Kubota power tillers (big) to the gewog in Tsirang. Another seven mini power tillers will also be distributed to the gewog that did not receive last year.

The focal person, Tandin Pem, said that the size of the two power tillers, Yanmar and Kubota, are similar. “In fact, Kubota is even heavier and bigger than Yanmar. I don’t know how farmers will be able to make use of it.”

Farmers are worried the new power tillers might also remain idle.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang