It has been almost three months since Pem Tenzin from Zomlingthang village of Gosarling, Tsirang, applied for a Priority Sector Lending (PSL) loan.

He applied the loan to buy a power tiller.

The dzongkhag PSL committee cleared his application and forwarded to the bank since March.

“But I have not heard from the bank,” Pem Tenzin said.

Back in the village, it is time for farmers to prepare the fields to transplant paddy.

But Pem Tenzin has no means to begin the work, as he did not bother to hire oxen like he did in the past since he had applied for a loan to buy a power tiller.

He said that although he has a pair of oxen at home, they are too old to plough. He has already decided to send them for tshethar.

“If the power tiller loan doesn’t come through soon, I don’t know if I will be able to cultivate my land this year,” he said.

He said it is not possible to get the oxen on hire at the last minute. He has an acre of paddy field.

Few metres away from his house, Dorji Dema is busy in the field. While her son tills the land with power tiller, she removes dry grass from the paddy terrace.

Dorji Dema also applied for PSL loan in March and got it cleared from the dzongkhag PSL committee.

She said that when the committee forwarded her application to the bank, she was convinced that the loan would be sanctioned. So she took another loan from Bhutan Development Bank Ltd and bought a power tiller.

“I had to buy immediately because I was much in need to grow vegetables,” she said.

Dorji Dema bought the power tiller, which was on display during the Tsirang Tsechu in March.

She said she wanted to liquidate BDBL’s loan with the loan she would receive from PSL, which she learned would be available with a one-year grace period. “Now I’m worried if the PSL loan will at all come through,” she said.

Like Dorji Dema and Pem Tenzin, at least six other farmers of one of the cooperatives in Gosarling gewog, ‘Gosarling Sonam Nyamley Tshogpa’ applied for similar PSL loan.

None of them got their loans nor has heard from the bank. Of the 20 members 13 of them applied for PSL loan.

Besides power tillers, members also applied for a loan to buy grass cutter, cardamom plantation and horticulture farming.

The chairman of the cooperative, Dorji, said he encouraged the farmers to avail the loan facility for farm mechanisation. “Farmers are pressurising me now as they are worried they may miss cultivation this year.”

Meanwhile, Bank of Bhutan officials in Tsirang said that applications and forms approved by the dzongkhag PSL committee were immediately forwarded to the headquarters.

So far the PSL committee has approved at least 103 applications and forwarded to the banks. Of that more than half are agriculture-related loans.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang