Power tiller and commodities to be airlifted to Lunana

The government will airlift power tillers and goods for Lunana’s Sonam Tshongkhag  or farm shop this week.

The farm shop was supposed to have opened yesterday.

The people of Lunana gewog in Gasa are expecting the power tillers to be airlifted on April 4.

According to Lunana gup Kaka, the agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji had said the power tillers would be airlifted from Paro on April 4. He approached the minister in Thimphu recently. Lunana is one of the few gewogs that are yet to receive power tillers although machines have already been allocated for the gewog.

Gup Kaka said that while the highlander gewog does not grow crops on large scale, almost all the households in the five chiwogs of the gewog farm some crops for self-consumption. Each household owns at least an acre on which potatoes, barley, and radish, among others are grown.

Since the farming season has begun, the Lunaps are looking forward to the arrival of the power tillers, said gup Kaka. When the farming season starts, people usually bring yaks from the pasture lands to plough the fields. “We have to sow seed towards the end of March and throughout April and cultivate the crops only towards the end of August,” said gup Kaka. The crops are then stored underground to protect it from extreme weather, and are consumed the rest of the year.

Gasa Dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said the farm shop in Lunana was scheduled to open yesterday but had to be postponed. The farm shop will be opened at the Lunana gewog centre in Tshojong in a guesthouse that was left underutilised for years. It will cater to around 196 households in five chiwogs of the gewog, said the dzongdag.

He confirmed that both the power tiller and farm shop goods would be airlifted.

Dzongkhag officials said considering the remoteness and extreme weather condition, Lunaps had to buy goods and commodities at an inflated rate. Essential commodities like rice, salt and grocery items are priced five to six times more than the price in Punakha. The farm shop would have all essential items besides farm tools and seeds that would be sold at a lower price than the present market rate in Lunana.

Officials said having a farm shop in Lunana would not only ease the inflation burden on people, but would also fulfill the government’s objective to act as an agent for local produce.

The agriculture ministry earlier agreed to open a Sonam Tshongkhag in Lunana by December 2016. The ministry has already received the list of items from the people and gewog office for their shop, agriculture officials said.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue

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