Five young members of the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YiAP) in Tsimasham, Chukha are an inspiration to many youth seeking employment in agriculture. The business that they began two years ago is today more stable.

Initially, the members just wanted to sell vegetables. Later, they decided to grow whatever they could sell.

Kinzang Duba, a university graduate, and a founding member of YiAP, said the project’s aim is to encourage the youth to think out of the box.

Currently, Kinzang Duba and the group’s other members are preparing their fields. YiAP has also ventured into oyster mushroom farming.

“We are more confident now of achieving the objectives and the sustainability of the business,” Kinzang Duba said. “We have been through many challenges and have learned many new things.”

YiAP has received support from the government and other agencies. It received a grant of Nu 275,000 from the labour ministry and UNDP. From the Loden Foundation the project got a Nu 490,000 interest-free loan. The dzongkhag administration of Chukha also provided the young farmers with Nu 500,000.

YiAP is cultivating a 4.5-acre private plot in Tsimasham. It has installed two green houses and has purchased a power tiller. The group has made use of private land left fallow in Bunakha. Below the Damchu bypass, the team has been able to work on an acre of land.

YiAP plans to start commercial chilli farming in Bunakha. Such projects will then be replicated in the southern dzongkhags of the country. It also aims to take up cattle rearing.

Pests spoil about 10 to 15 vegetable plants a night, said the young farmers. They have fenced their broccoli plants with PET bottles, which proved to be an effective measure.

YiAP members said that the larger dream of the project is to curb the vegetable shortage in the country by using land left fallow. They want to spread the message that sustainable agriculture can be an intervention to solve youth unemployment.

A YiAP outlet has been constructed in Tsimasham on the roadside. During the peak season, YiAP makes about Nu 90,000 a month.

Rajesh Rai | Tsimasham