…Farmers and local leaders blame FMCL for the recent loss 

Phub Dem | Paro

Local leaders and farmers of Paro say Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL) was responsible for losing significant paddy crops to recent rainfall.

The local leaders discussed the inconvenience caused by non-operating machines and the allocation of machines at the dzongkhag tshogdu recently. They were of the view that FMCL hiring services have not benefited the farmers.

Lamgong gewog received the machine on the first day of the harvest, but locals claimed it was non-operational from day one, adding that their fields became a training site for the operators.

Lamgong Gup Gem Tshering said that if FMCL had provided operational machines and trained operators, the impact of the recent natural calamities would have been far less.

He blamed FMCL for not repairing the machine before the harvest season, adding that only a few of them were functional. “FMCL provided 11 machines, but only three are operational. It took more than ten days to complete the harvest in one chiwog.”

Due to loopholes at the management level, he said that such losses and inconveniences were likely to occur.  Farmers, he said, were willing to invest in harvest machines if the government could help them procure them at a subsidized rate.

FMCL allotted bulk machines with the operators in two groups, one group for the upper gewogs and the other for the lower gewogs, this year.

This, according to Dopshari Mangmi Jou, raised a lot of issues among the farmers, as everyone was waiting for the machines. He said that usually, the machines were divided among gewogs, and then chiwogs use them in turns without any issues.

Tsento Gup Dolay Tshering said that allocation of farm machinery based on a lucky draw was unfair, adding that Tsento gewog did not receive the machine this time.

He said that if FMCL had provided the machines equally, that might have reduced the impact of the rainfall. “Farmers who harvested using a combined harvester escaped the disaster.”

Besides, he questioned the role of gewog agriculture officers and the dzongkhag while hiring the machines, as farmers were mostly ignored. “Is the government even monitoring the operation of FMCL? Most of the machines are non-operational and do not help the farmers in need.”

Disappointed by the recent loss, he questioned if Paro needed FMCL’s services, adding that farmers were willing to buy machines, as FMCL’s machines were hard to get and broke down most of the time while working in the field.

Additionally, Doteng Mangmi Chimi Dorji said that the locals were willing to buy the equipment so that FMCL could provide uninterrupted services to other parts of the country. “It is time FMCL brought in reforms in the management of the hiring farm machinery.”

Doteng Gup Letho said that some chiwogs that have machines had already collected the rice before the rain.

Acknowledging the loopholes, FMCL Chief Executive Officer Karma Thinley said that when FMCL was incorporated as a state-owned enterprise in 2016, it received decade-old machines and workers who were untrained.

FMCL noted a significant demand for farm machinery in recent years.

He said that the corporation bought eight additional machines that were supplied mainly in Paro.

The new allocation strategy was adapted with consideration of the limited mechanics, operators, bill collectors, and vehicles to transport the machines to every gewog, he said.

The DT chairperson said that communication and planning activities with local leaders could have addressed the issue. He recommended that FMCL, farmers, and gewog agriculture officers communicate and draw the most effective strategies to allocate the machines hereafter.

The DT passed a resolution to write to FMCL to provide necessary help to the affected farmers and develop strategies to allocate the most effective ways to distribute the machines to the farmers as early as possible.

The tshogdu also passed a resolution to write to the government seeking support and subsidies to procure farm machinery and establishing farm machinery spare parts sales outlets and workshops.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk