By issuing eight power tillers to Thimphu’s gewogs yesterday is part of the government’s aim to complete distributing power tillers to all 205 Geowgs by October 10th this year.
Power tillers distribution has been completed in 178 gewogs in the country leaving only 27 gewogs in Zhemgang, Trongsa, Bumthang and Paro which will be supplied in a week’s time.
During the handing over ceremony of the power tillers to the eight gewog gups of Thimphu, the Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) minister Dorji Choden said that Issuing one power tiller each to every gewog in the Country is not about fulfilling the government’s pledge but about people benefiting from it.
The Agriculture ministry through many strategies such as setting up farm shops, farm roads etc is working vigorously towards boosting agricultural production in the country, according to Lyonpo.
The farmers are also expected to benefit from power tiller hiring system which was started with on trail run basis for about three months in six eastern dzongkhags where 70 power tillers were used. When this trial run was reviewed it was found out that 687 acres were tilled by the machines benefiting almost 1000 households.
With the Interim gewog power tiller hiring guidelines in place, the farmers can easily access power tillers when required by paying Nu. 1400 a day meaning eight working hours inclusive of lunch break.
Hiring rates includes machine operators charge, fuel and basic maintenance.
Lyonpo said that the issuance of power tiller is expected to boost agricultural production which will contribute towards the country’s objective of attaining food security. “If we are secure with food, so is our country’s sovereignty,” she said.
In addition Lyonpo said that the power tiller also serves as an alternative means of transport especially in taking agricultural products to the nearest market and making good utilization of those machines would only benefit farmers themselves.
For those gewogs which are inaccessible by road, Lyonpo said that the government is providing proficient people to dismantle the parts of the power tiller into a portable piece and fix it once it is in the gewogs.
Meanwhile the Program Director with the Agriculture Machinery Center (AMC) Karma Thinley added that supplying Power tillers in each gewog would help bring down problem associated with farm labour shortage and help bring increasing fallow land under cultivation.
He added that power tiller in each gewogs will significantly optimize land utilization, land intensification and promote agriculture commercialization.
Further he said that it will help generate rural employment and enhance income of the farming community to cover large agriculture areas under mechanization and improve accessibility of the farm machineries to marginal and poor farmers who cannot afford to own the machineries
As per the Agriculture Extension Officer Nidup Zangmo the farm labor shortage was identified as one of the major challenges in farming operations and agricultural development and this has led to the decrease in the area of land under cultivation and food production consequently.
Due to farm labor scarcity, agricultural work is never completed on time and the cost of farming has increased resulting low food production.
As of now she said that only 45 acres of wet land is under cultivation in Kawang Gewog and with the power tiller facilities Kawang gewog alone is potential of producing 2,290 metric tons of rice under 100 acres of wet land.