Increasing fallow land due to labour shortage in Samphelling Gewog, Chhukha

Farming is a labour intensive job and the shortage of workers remains one of the biggest challenges for farmers in the country. As a result, many people are giving up on farming. It is the same in Chhukha where several villages in Samphelling Gewog are seeing an increase in fields being left fallow due to the shortage of workers especially since the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is almost time to plough the fields and get them ready for paddy cultivation. But given the current situation, it is certain several acres of wetland will remain uncultivated in Sonamthang, Khenpaithang and Pangnabar villages.

Many people in these villages have given up farming in recent years.

With mostly the elderly residing in the villages, finding helpers to work in the fields has become difficult.

According to sources, more than a hundred acres of cultivable land remain fallow in the three villages. Prior to the pandemic, farmers would hire Indian villagers across the border who would work in the fields on daily charges. However, Indian day workers are now not allowed in rural areas.

“It is mostly the elderly people in the villages. The youths are either in school or have moved out for better opportunities,” said Arjun Chhetri, Khenpaithang- Sonamthang Tshogpa.

“It has become really difficult to get labourers since Indian workers are not allowed here. Usually we get workers from there, but after the pandemic, it has been stopped,” said Nakchu, a farmer.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian day workers are not allowed here in rural areas and that’s why it is very difficult to get labourers. Only the elderly people are left here and they are not able to work in the fields resulting in the fields being left fallow,” said Ram Kumar Rai, Samphelling Gup.

Local leaders and residents raised this issue with government officials who visited the gewog recently. A member of parliament shared that talks are currently ongoing. Sonamthang, Khenpaithang and Pangnabar have more than 125 acres of wetland.

According to data with the Samphelling Gewog Office, the gewog has more than 145 acres of wetland of which more than 55 acres are fallow.

Kinley Dem, Chhukha

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen 

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