Nim Dorji | Bumthang

Men and women with their heads covered in scarves are bent over long beds prepared by tractors. The fields, long and red smells of fresh earth as the 50 workers, divided into two to four work on the beds.

Wobthang village in Tang looks different today. The ridges carved out with men and machine makes it visible in the otherwise green valley. Thirty-five acres of land is readied. It will be one of the biggest farming projects in the country.

Temporarily named as the Wobthang Organic Wonders (WOW), the project is initiated by the Leader of Opposition Party, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho together with a group of retired agricultural officials and in collaboration the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the dzongkhag administration, community and gewog administration.

OL Pema Gyamtsho said that a major concern of His Majesty The King, following the Covid-19 pandemic, is its impact on access to and availability of food. “In the event of a continued lockdown in India, Bhutan may face a shortage of food commodities including vegetables,” he said.

Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said that to contribute towards ensuring food security the government is encouraging agriculture production across the country. “Inspired by His Majesty The King’s selfless efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of His people, the project was initiated with the unconditional support and encouragement received from the Prime Minister,” said the opposition leader.

WOW aims to produce organic vegetables such as peas, beans, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, turnip, and plans to expand to include cereals and potatoes in the next season. The existing community diary farm will also be improved with the pasture development by the project.

The first produce from the project is expected to hit the market by July this year.

Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said the gewog administration is providing full support through the mobilisation of labour and other resources. The gewog officials are actively involved in the implementation of the project.

The Central Machinery Unit and the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd. is supporting the project with machinery in addition to machinery like tractors hired from the locality. The National Soil Service Centre is providing technical support to the project while the gewog and dzongkhag agriculture officers and volunteer experts are also helping the project.

WOW has involved youth consisting of graduates, school leavers and students who are in the village because of the closure of schools. More than 50 people are actively involved every day.

If all works out according to plan, the farm could eventually become a training and development centre for commercial farming.

WOW is pre-financed by the Prime Minister’s office.