Meanwhile those who took up farming earlier this year say it is paying off
The Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that there are lots of individuals who are interested to work in the agricultural sector so MoAF is planning to employee around 7,500 youths in the Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) sector.
“We are planning to employ youth in different firms like in post harvest management, commercial farming and winter vegetable production. We are hoping more than 4,000 youth will be engaged in the agriculture sector initiated by Department of agriculture. Similarly in livestock we are thinking of employing 700 youth. Some will be regular employee and some will be seasonal employee and they will be given daily wages,” the Agriculture Minister said, adding that they will be employed under Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation, Green Bhutan Corporation Limited, Farm Machinery Corporation Limited, Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and Park services and Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives.
Lyonpo said that Ministry is also planning for agro tourism preparation, in this project there will be some salaried, some seasonal and some entrepreneurship promotion. Around 2,800 youth could be employed here.
“Altogether in the RNR sector, we are planning to employ around 7,500 individuals. We are still having discussions on this,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that capacity building of youth is important and though the youths are interested to take up farming they do not have professional knowledge in agriculture.
“Currently they have to go and work as an employee so they do not have long term security. While youth are already in the market they are there for the short term and so the PMO and the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources is working on this. We are providing them with short term trainings and those private interested groups will be given support,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo said that in the long term, TVET needs to consider Renewable Natural Resources capacity building and once they gain practical experience they will also have to be given opportunity to go for higher studies.
“Currently TVET doesn’t have scope for a bright future, so the government is working on reprioritizing the TVET,” Lyonpo said.
Focal person of Department of Agriculture BB Rai said that ever since the pandemic hit tourism Sector, 169 laid off youth joined the urban agriculture programme that was specifically invited by DoA with financial support of FAO.
“We have 26 groups in Thimphu valley. The above number of engaged youths are inclusive of Peri Urban agriculture programme with the same funding agency which been initiated for youth in commercial farming at Bumthang, Punakha and Sarpang,” he said.
Dorji Gyem, who took a commercial farming in Babena with 76 decimal land after the pandemic affected her income said that motivation is must for youth to take up farming as their career.
“We need to motivate youth if we want our youth in agriculture. They should be given training and knowledge regarding the agriculture sector,” she said.
She said, “It is my first time in farming and I am happy with the outcome. We had a good production and we made around Nu 200,000 by selling vegetables.
“We have sold around 1 metric ton of chillies and other vegetables. Currently we are working on making green houses and drying the chillies. We are also planning to grow potatoes,” she said.
A laid off guide Jimba also said that they have made a right decision by taking farming to sustain their living.
“During the time of lockdown, we did not face problems regarding the vegetables since we harvested on the land which was given to us on lease by the Ministry. We even distributed to the CFM at lower rates and made around Nu 16,000,” he said.
He said, “We have dried around 300 kilos of chillies and now we are focusing on making money from it and we are hoping that we will be able to make a huge amount from it.”
He added that youth needs encouragement to work in the field and take up commercial farming.
“If we didn’t take up farming, we would have been facing problems paying rent and bills for daily expenses. It saved us during such situation. If youth are encouraged then they are interested and they are willing to take up farming but they need guidance and training,” he said.