Integrated Farming Popular Among Civil Servants

“It provides an opportunity for civil servants to participate in a healthy recreational activity and produce their own food.”

Farming in Bhutan. (Source: www.drukasia.com)

 

By Rinchen Zangmo I Kuensel

Integrated farming which started four years ago at Wangsisina in Thimphu is still popular amongst civil servants.

The aim of the Integrated Agriculture Technology Farming (IATF) is to demonstrate using agriculture-based economic enterprise in an integrated, holistic and packaged production process using appropriate farm technologies. The farm is spread over 28.03 acres of government land.

Original aim of the farm

Thimphu’s deputy chief agriculture officer, Dhodo, said that the farm was initially planned for out-of-school youth and those looking for employment opportunities in Thimphu.

“We focus on social mandates rather than on the production. Even if a person is interested in kitchen gardening, there is hardly any space in a place like Thimphu,” said Dhodo.

“It provides an opportunity for civil servants to participate in a healthy recreational activity and produce their own food.”

He said that the IATF was established at a time when Bhutan was importing almost 80 percent of its vegetables from abroad.

What the IATF provides

IATF provides information related to production and post-harvest management to visitors, farmers, traders, and students interested in taking up farming.

Sonam Penjore had been working in one of the plots in Wangsisina for the last four years. “It has been rewarding. Whatever we harvest is shared with neighbours and relatives.”

After working in the plot, he said that his family only had to buy a few vegetables which were not grown on the farm such as onions.

Last year, the farm also started poultry farming. This year, the Thimphu dzongkhag administration plans to introduce fishery, vermin-compost technique, and to incorporate improved strawberry cultivation.

“Such integrated farm is difficult to be replicated in other places due to a lack of resources such as land and money,” Dhodo said.

He said that the integrated farming was introduced to address the shortage of home-grown vegetables and fruits channelled through an organised planning and management of agriculture development.

Eco-friendly technologies harnessed on the farm

The farm’s overall planning encompasses eco-friendly technologies that are adaptive to the changing climate and weather conditions for sustained production system.

Thimphu’s agriculture extension officer, NB Lama, said that the plots are provided only to married individuals. “As the lone plot is about 10-15 decimal, the farming work needs more labour.”

Pema Lhaden is one of the 85 civil servants who had been working on the plot since 2014.

“I have a 10-decimal plot. Although it is a little far from where I live, it is fun to work. It is like a picnic for us,” she said.

About 50 new applicants got plots at the farm last year. The farm was established at the cost of Nu 5 million.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.


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