The group consisting of three members had tried their luck in farming in 2015 with chilli cultivation in 3 acres of land. However they lost 95% of their hard work to wildlife discouraging them to continue farming for the next three years.
Considering the vegetable cultivation picking up across the country that has benefited farmers with income and better livelihood opportunities, the group showed their keen interest once again in farming in 2019.
They planted 600 nos. of avocado and 300 nos. of lemon saplings in 4 and 2 acres of land respectively with an aim to make a model fruit farm in the coming time and encourage others. To sustain till the tree starts bearing fruits, the group cultivated chilli, beans, cauliflower, lady finger, bitter gourd, ginger and turmeric as an alternative source of income.
The group aims to go for 100% natural produces without using hazardous chemicals and ensure nutritional value. With six cattle around, they prepare their own bio-pesticides using cow urine and compost for a nutritional supplement to crops. They own 10.5 acres of leased land with avocado and lemon as the main crops.
Since May 2019, the group has produced about 8000 kgs of hybrid chilli and sold them at Gedu, Centenary Farmers’ Market in Thimphu and Gomtu. They have not faced any marketing issues for their vegetables as of now.
According to the group chairman, Birkha Bdr. Chhetri, their farmland is located in an isolated place. He added that wildlife such as monkey, wild pig and deer are the regular issues for them. They are now opting to go for electric fencing to safeguard their crops.
A lack of farm road at Muktiar Bagan is another challenge for the group. It takes around 2 hours to reach the nearest road point, the gewog centre. A proposal for the farm road has been put up to the gewog administration and they are hopeful to have road access soon.
The group has invested around Nu.1 million since 2019 to enhance their agriculture farming. Today, they own a power tiller to ease bed preparation and a bolero for transporting their products to the market. The Dzongkhag Development Grant also provided them fund support of Nu.0.73 million to ensure irrigation from Khanavarti River, procure a power tiller and a greenhouse.
During peak season, the group is able to create employment opportunities for around 20 farmers. They also encourage them to replicate the chilli and vegetable cultivation in their respective farms.
According to Pushpalal Khatiwara, Sr. Extension Officer of Phuntshopelri, it is quite challenging to provide regular guidance to the group considering the location. “But with hard work and dedication, the group is performing well today proving that agriculture farming is a successful venture,” he added.
The group was registered with the marketing department as Jangcholing Tshoesey Dumra Detshen in 2015 and was later renamed as Sr. Youth Group.
The Extension Officer shares that the group has just completed planting few banana and fodder tree saplings and hedgerows with napier to ensure land management. Two demo stone check dams have also been constructed. The group will soon receive an electric drier for post-harvest processing of ginger and turmeric products.
-ICTD with photos by Pushpalal Khatiwara, Sr. Extension Officer, Phuntshopelri
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