Of the country’s total geographical area, only about three per cent is arable land. To address this, the agriculture ministry has been carrying out sustainable land management and development projects. And it is proving to be a success, with more and more farmers showing interest and coming forward for the development of their land.
In Pema Gatshel, About 20 acres of land in Gongribalay remained fallow for more than two decades. The landowners cleared and revived the land earlier this year and grew maize on it. They say the harvest was good, but that it can be much better if their land is also developed like the ones in the neighbouring villages.
“We used spades and pickaxes to prepare the terraces but it isn’t that good. We are hoping that officials will carry out the land development programme here as well,” said Khandu, the Norbugang-Rinchenzor Tshogpa.
“If our land is developed, we can plant maize in winter and also do paddy cultivation. If we can grow rice, it will also help the country achieve food self-sufficiency,” said Phurpa Gyeltshen, a farmer from Rinchenzor.
They say using farming machines is also not possible right now but that land development would make that possible. About a dozen households appealed to the Gewog Agriculture Extension Officer in March.
Meanwhile, the Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Tashi Phuntsho, said they might not have a sufficient budget for land development this time due to a shortage of funds.
“I am not sure if the budget we have will be sufficient. But we are discussing with the gewog administration for assistance through the Gewog development grant,” he said.
The gewog office is also exploring other possibilities. Norbugang Gup Kinley Dorji said they “are trying to get international funding, like the Small Development Project who has said that they will provide funds if the farmers show interest.”
The Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector has developed more than 100 acres of wet and dry land in Chhoekhorling, Chongshing, Norbugang, and Nanong gewogs with funding from the Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme (CARLEP).
The land development programme was initiated in the dzongkhag in 2019.
Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen