Chimi Dema | Dagana

Farming was becoming difficult due to shortage of farmhands.   Sha Bdr. Golay, a farmer in Tsendagang, Dagana wanted a power tiller.

He could buy one last year but only with the help of rural development project in Bhutan (project PRuDent) under RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) microfinance.

He bought a mini power-tiller worth Nu 68,000 and pays a monthly interest of Nu 900.  He grows varieties of vegetables on more than four acres of land.

Another farmer in the gewog, Mom Lal Gurung, said that investing in a power tiller made farming more productive and meaningful.

The gewog’s agriculture extension officer, Bikash Tamang, said that the loan helped commercial vegetable farmers in the dzongkhag who were really struggling.

A vegetable farmer, Gyem Lham, said hiring a tiller was expensive. “I’ve applied for the loan to get one.”

The focal person of the project, Tshering Wangmo, said that the baseline survey conducted by RENEW MFI last year found that many farmers had to go to either Thimphu or Phuentsholing to buy farm machinery. “It was expensive.”

The project, in collaboration with Karma One Stop Shop, provides power-tillers at 15 percent less than the market price for farmers.  For places, where there are orders for three or more, the machine is delivered free of cost.

For a machine, which costs more than Nu 100,000, a farmer pays 20 percent of the cost.

“Although the loan is collateral free, we sign an agreement with a client that the machine will be retained with RENEW MFI until the loan is repaid,” Tshering Wangmo said.

The project has so far given 150 mini power tillers in Tsirang and 14 in Dagana.

RENEW MFI is funded by the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC) in Germany.