To optimise use of land the agriculture ministry has started a major land development program in the six eastern dzongkhags to terrace dry lands and expand small terraces for irrigated paddy fields.
According to the Gender and Knowledge Management Officer with Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Program (CARLEP), Karma Wangmo, the program is being carried out to help farmers make use of available farm machineries to bring down farm labour usage, cost associated and time, which would eventually enable commercialization of farming, especially winter vegetables.
She said the eastern region is steeper, in both dry and irrigated arable land, which posed limitations to the benefits of mechanization and commercialization.
The leading example of land development in the eastern region is Domkhar village in Lhuentse Dzongkhag where 46 acres of paddy fields belonging to about 37 households with smaller terraces, stones and gullies have been redeveloped by expanding smaller terraces and joining them to suit usage of simple farm machineries.
Domkhar village in Tshenkhar gewog has 94 households and about 120 acres of paddy fields. Land development in this village began in March 2017 led by the Dzongkhag Agriculture Office with fund from CARLEP – IFAD and monetary contribution from farmers.
Karma Wangmo said that Domkhar is primarily a rice growing village with smaller conventional terraces and with assured irrigation, post paddy cultivation, and developed land suitable for mechanisation.
A local town on the Mongar Lhuentse highway offered a ready market and the village’s agro ecological conditions made it suitable for winter vegetable production.
A total of 46 households have agreed on both land development initiative and the post land development programs in adopting sustainable land management practices to prevent soil run off and commercial vegetable production.
Meanwhile she said that farmers were also provided assistance to apply farmyard manure after land development and prior to cultivation.
Sustainable land management practices of planting fodder grasses namely Napier and fodder trees has also been agreed to as well as stone walls to take advantage of abundant stone in the locality.
With the cost of machinery hire borne by the ministry, funds from CARLEP support fuel and transport.
In its first year of implementation, a total of 60 acres have been targeted in six dzongkhags with a fund of Nu 3.30 million in the 2016-17 financial year.