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Gewog engages youth in agriculture to retain them in the village and reduce imports

With the ever growing issue of youth unemployment, rural urban migration and import of food, the local community in Choekhorling under Pemagasthel dzongkhag is taking up an initiative to enhance the local agricultural production to meet the domestic demand for self-reliance and also help youth earn an income.

The community’s aim is to make Choekhorling economically stable which would ultimately help engage youths and discourage them from going to urban areas in search of better jobs.

The community has planted winter vegetables on six acres and is now preparing a 50 acre field to cultivate tapioca.

According to the community coordinator and the gewog Mangmi, Jigme, the community is working towards producing enough to suffice their own vegetable need which is going to reduce the amount of vegetables imported from across the border.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is supporting this major initiative. A team has already been nominated from the village to manage the mega program for sustainability.

As a result, Choekhorling, otherwise a quite land, is today buzzing with more people and activities. Popularly known as Kulicatta, it is a gewog under Pemagatshel district. It has 235 households with a population of 1854 and is about 144.86 square. It shares borders with Dewathang on the east and Assam on the south.

More land has been identified for organic vegetable farming and assorted fruit cultivation.

Jigme said that the communities would now aim to produce vegetables of their own in the back drop of the rupee crunch which limits imports of Indian vegetables and also skyrocketing prices of the local vegetables.

He said that that such farming initiative would provide a very good opportunity for families to come and work together and impart their rich farming experience to the youth.

He also said that this initiative would contribute substantially toward fulfilling vegetable self sufficiency and economic self-reliance.

“The farm is a new concept of an integrated approach to promote vegetable farming using organic farming mechanisms” Jigme said.

The community up to now has planted Chillies, potato, cabbages, radishes and  spinach. The cultivation is aimed at producing winter vegetable initially began from December last year.

As an initial program the community is dedicated in producing enough vegetables for the community and slowly aims at supplying to other nearby gewogs.

At the same time the farmers have been encouraged to produce vegetables in small scale for their own consumption and to discourage them from buying vegetables from across the border as the consumers still prefer imported vegetables due to cheaper price and the abundance of the imported vegetables.

Most of the farmers in the gewog are aware of the government policies and strategy of trying to boost the homegrown vegetables in wake of INR crunch.  They are positive about taking up farming and bringing  more land under cultivation to contribute towards making Bhutan self-sufficient in vegetables.

“We cultivate something in a plot of land provided to us because we believe that self sufficiency of vegetable starts at an individual level.”

Choekhorling gewogs has over 130 households and currently about 90 households are involved in the community cultivation program.

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