Nima | Gelephu

Ten class 12 graduates are currently working with P.K organic farm in Samtenling, Sarpang, to learn the basics of commercial farming practically.

The group expects to produce vegetables on a commercial scale within a year after setting up their farm in the dzongkhag.

They took up agriculture and food security subjects in school and practical experience at the farm inspired them to try their luck in agriculture.

The group leader and also the manager of the farm, Sonam, said that it was a big opportunity for him to prepare for life and earn a living by working in the farm.

“We are more vulnerable to bad influence once we complete our studies. Working on the farm kept me engaged and helped me learn important aspects of farming. It’s a big opportunity for unemployed youth,” he said.

Sonam said that the stay at P.K Organic farm helped him understand more about farming and its potential to achieve food security. “We will continue working here for a year and start our farm then.”

P.K organic farm pays the group a monthly salary, provides training and tour related to commercial farming.

The owner, Kama Gurung, said that she was planning to form a group to help more youth take up commercial farming. “Keeping them on a salary basis won’t encourage them. It’s an opportunity for them to earn more share and gain more supports.”

She said that it was difficult to get financial support and grants for an individual farm from the relevant agency and departments.

Three among the 10 youth are employed with support from Youth Engagement and Livelihood Programme (YELP).

The owner said that it would encourage more youth if the support from YELP were increased.

“Those working in agriculture and construction received Nu 10,000 in a month from labour ministry earlier, as a priority sector. Now they are given Nu 5,000 like other non-priority sectors,” said one of the farm owners.

Sonam said that the youth are motivated to work in agriculture when the earning is good. “Sometimes the production and marketing don’t come as expected, hampering the returns. Government should support in this situation.”

He said it was important to make the agriculture sector attractive for the youth.

“People don’t think good of agriculture still. This can be changed through awareness and by supporting mechanised farming,” he said.

Another group member, Tashi Drukpa, said that he would prefer to continue his studies before settling for the current job. “It’s important to pursue higher education first to do things differently. It would help me explore the same opportunities with better ideas.”

The group members said marketing the produce is the major setback in agriculture. “Price changes a lot. We couldn’t harvest the tomatoes this time,” a group member said.