Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupcholing 

The absence of an agriculture extension officer in Pemathang gewog in Samdrupcholing drungkhag, Samdrupjongkhar, has left villagers in a fix. Farmers say they lost more than 100kg of chillies recently because there was no one to facilitate marketing.

Villagers said that despite several requests to the gewog administration, the gewog was left without a replacement after the former agriculture extension officer resigned nine months ago last year.

A farmer, Chandra Bahadur Waglay, 48, said they seek help from the agriculture extension officers of Phuentshothang and Martshala gewogs whenever they are available.

“But since both are large gewogs in the drungkhag, we are unable to reach the agriculture officers when we need. Martshala gewog’s agriculture extension officer visited once so far,” he said.

Another farmer, Ram Chandra, said it became difficult to get seedlings, information on forming cooperatives, and avail farmer training without the official.

“It is more challenging when the insects affect the crops because we don’t know how to deal with it,” he said. “It’s high time for the concerned authorities to send a replacement.”

“We cannot blame Phuentshothang and Martshala gewog’s agriculture extension officers for not turning up because they also need to attend to their respective gewogs,” a farmer, Subba Chettri, said.

Officiating Samdrupjongkhar agriculture officer, Chorten Tshering, said that they have submitted the requisition to the department in Thimphu three times so far.

He said the department has instructed them to wait until December this year. “The dzongkhag agriculture officer has been helping the people in the gewog whenever required.”

Edited by Tshering Palden