November 23, Thimphu: In order to ensure the sustainable management of sokshing or leaf litter collection, the guidelines for lease and management of sokshing land will soon be in place.
The guidelines developed in accordance to the Land Act 2007 and Land Lease Rules and Regulations 2009 will promote sustainable management and utilisation of sokshing land. It will also ensure equitable access to sokshing.
As per the guidelines, the reverted sokshing shall be leased to individuals or communities. Leasing preference will be given to previous rights holders. The farmers’ groups or cooperatives taking up agriculture farming shall also be eligible to apply.
In order to apply for a Sokshing lease, an applicant shall route through the geog administration, Dzongkhag Land Leasing Committee and the Ministry following the verifications at respective areas. Upon approval, the Dzongkhag shall demarcate the boundaries for sokshing areas.
The guidelines will allow the sokshing lease for an initial term of not less than 30 years with the provision of renewal. It also includes the sokshing management plan and implementation schedule to be prepared by an applicant with the help of agriculture supervisor. Both geog and Dzongkhag shall ensure that the lease of sokshing is being utilised as per the plan. No permanent infrastructure shall be allowed on the sokshing land.
According to a spokesperson, a draft guideline was developed in 2013 and various consultations have been held to finalise it over the years. The Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (DAO) from 20 Dzongkhags took part in the final consultation meeting from November 20-22 who contributed immensely to finalise the guidelines based on field issues.
Prior to the release, the guidelines will be put up to the Ministry for approval and implementation module will be discussed with the National Land Commission. The guidelines is expected to be implemented by early 2018.
For centuries, sokshing has been part of rural livelihoods. The farming community use leaf litte as a cattle bedding material which is then mixed with the excreta of cattle to be used as farm yard manure. The manure helps to improve water holding capacity and fertility. It will also help organic agriculture development in the country and serves as a source of fuel wood and fodder for rural communities habitat for fauna which are essential components of healthy ecosystem.
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