In 2013, Tashi Bidha, 51, was the lone farmer living in Lull – a village located about 40km from Bajo, Wangdue in Kazhi gewog.
With only eight households, the village was identified as one of the most remote in Wangdue.
Today, Lull is Wangdue’s first successful organic village. This began with one man’s initiative to bring road connectivity in 2013.
Thirty-nine-year-old Phub Dorji was elected as the tshogpa in 2013. Phub Dorji who is from Lull said the village then didn’t have electricity and road connectivity.
Except for Tashi Bidha, the villagers had moved to Lengkhipji chiwog, about 15km from Lull, as sharecroppers.
Although people of Lull had been sharecropping for about 25 years in Lengkhipji, it was in 2010 when the villagers completely abandoned Lull.
Tashi Bidha said that before people started to leave, two people in the village had died. She said they couldn’t reach the hospital or visit an astrologer due to lack of road.
By then the nearest road had reached Sill village, which is about 8.8km from Lull.
“Someone’s grandmother and a young woman also passed away. After these incidences, people started to leave. I would bring around my cows and there would be no one around. I also started having thoughts of leaving.”
By 2013, the village’s request for road connectivity was denied because it did not meet the requirement of 20 households.
When Phub Dorji proposed bringing their own road on a loan, many were reluctant.
Bidha said it was almost impossible to think of getting a loan. “We barely made what we needed on our small land and repaying the loan seemed impossible. However, after some discussions, six households agreed.”
With a collection of over Nu 500,000, six households brought the 8.8km of road to Lull.
Phub Dorji said that while five households contributed Nu 100,000 each through loan, two had denied, as they didn’t live in the village. “One household contributed Nu 50,000 although she doesn’t live in Lull.”
Today, the village has about 10 working persons and about 15 students in school.
Months after the village got its road, electricity arrived. In 2017, the village agreed to become organic.
Phub Dorji said that during his tenure as tshogpa, he had witnessed the villagers importing huge amount of pesticides. “Today, youth go to urban areas looking for jobs. When our children return one day, we should be able to provide them good land. We cannot make it unusable.”
The village received funding support from GEF LDCF through National Organic Programme.
Wangdue’s agriculture extension officer Jigme Lhamo said the village received potato seeds, asparagus seedlings, bio-fertiliser, bio-pesticide and vermicomposting among others. “The village has five poly houses, and they have first hand training on bio-pesticides preparation. They are now technically equipped.”
The dzongkhag agriculture office is also working on certification of Lull as an organic village. “But the National Organic Programme requires one year cooling period. By January next year they would be certified,” Jigme Lhamo said.
Earlier Lull harvested wheat, barley, and chilli. Today with production of over 11 varieties of crops, the village also sells their produce in Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Phuentsholing. Chili, garlic and potatoes are some of the major cash crops of Lull.
Since it turned organic, income generation has increased up to Nu 770,000 today.
“I think we are too dependent on the government. With the initiative of just five households, I hope it can be an example for other villages,” Phub Dorji said.
Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue