It has been seven months since three aspiring commerce graduates formed a start- up organic agriculture business. They have managed to change the stereotypical notion that farming is only meant for uneducated people in rural areas. In fact, their educational background is only helping them to enhance agricultural works and output.
One of the founders of the start-up, Kinzang Duba said the commercial farming venture is an outcome of a research work titled “Exploring the Viability of Pool Farming for Accelerating Food Self-Sufficiency in Bhutan” which was funded by UNU-IAS, Japan and guided by the host researcher Dr Singye Namgyel.
Since 2014, an area covering 5 acres of fallow arable land in Tshimasham, Chukha is pooled for the cause and has employed 3 people and few interns till date. The start-up venture strives to encourage the educated youth to opt for agro-farming as a recognized lucrative self-employment opportunity.
“Our initial investment was from three of ours savings which amounted Nu 70,000 and an additional Nu 120,000 from the research fund,” Kinzang Duba said.
With support from UNDP, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) and NOP, the agriculture start-up has been able to cultivate almost all type of vegetables for sale. In the last 6 months, the three graduates have been able to harvest 1500 kgs of organic vegetables, which is partly used for self-consumption. The income from the sale is used to buy seeds and farm machineries.
“As I look at what we have been doing, I feel more satisfied and it’s all still a process of learning,” Kinzang Duba added.
According to the portfolio manager, Economic Integration and Innovation Portfolio, UNDP Bhutan, Jigme Dorji, UNDP supported the graduates to take up commercial agriculture in Tshimasham as a pilot initiative since the agriculture sector has a huge potential for youth employment.
UNDP and MoLHR are partnering with RNR-RDC Bajo and Yusipang to conduct a feasibility study on engaging the youth in commercial agriculture. If the study is found feasible, UNDP might continue its engagement in the agriculture sector to address the increasing youth unemployment.
Apart from the cultivation business, Kinzang Duba and his two partners also do research and analysis, and carry out trials of best farm practices. Through their studies they have been able to plan agricultural ventures in other parts of Bhutan, especially in the southern parts of Bhutan in the near future.