Young Organic Farmer in Bhutan

Organic Vegetable Farming and Organic Seeds Production in Bhutan

December 1, 2020

Background: Tshering Dem, a full-time youth farmer in Phunaka, a city in Bhutan. She has been practicing organic farming since 2014. Currently, Tshering has approximately 3.87 acres of land on which she is cultivating organic vegetable; she is selling most of her crop yields along the highway near her community.

The majority of the seeds used in her farming are imported seeds – the phenomenon happening in Bhutan – making it difficult for farmers to be self-reliant. Moreover, the seeds provided by the government are only grown for consumption, but not for seeds production.

Goals

  • Providing organic seeds for self-reliance to farmers in her community
  • Empowering community through local seeds production
  • Inspiring youth to practice organic farming and seeds production

Objectives

  • Providing organic seeds to farmers in her community
  • Empowering community by providing high and stable income through organic farming and seeds production
  • Creating employment opportunities for the younger generations
  • Sharing seeds with farmers from other parts of Bhutan

Outcomes

  • A long-term business that is self-reliant through organic seeds production
  • A self-sustained organic farming community
  • More participation of youth in organic farming

Planning

She will implement her plan starting in August 2020 by clearing up and nurturing her land for cultivation. This is due to the fact that her land had been abandoned for 15 years before she came, she will divide 1 acre of her land for seeds production, and 2.87 for vegetable production.

In September, she will begin building water storage and drainage system. Water drainage is essential because much of the used water after consumption in her community flows to her farm causing damage to her crops, such as rotten vegetables. Water storage is also important especially in winter because the freezing temperature reduces the amount of water available for the farm. In addition, September is the most optimal time for such proposed structures due to the termination of raining season in Bhutan.

Land fencing will be built as well because like most of the farms in Bhutan, her farm is often ravaged by wild animals, especially porcupine and deer that often destroy her potatoes.

In between August and September, Tshering will be farming her organic vegetable for sales and for seeds production. For this step, she needs to learn bio-control to deal with insect and caterpillar problems.

Moreover, since she has not much experience with technical knowledge on seeds production and selection, equipping her with such skills during this time is necessary for her to produce high-quality seeds.

In October, all vegetables will be grown and most will be harvested for sales, and some will be left in their plots for seeds production. By this time, water storage and drainage, as well as fences around the land have to be in place.

TOA coordinated and collaborated with Inter-Religious for Climate and Ecology (ICE) Network to find a small grant to support young organic farmers in Mekong Countries and Bhutan.

ICE Network is very supportive and successfully fund a small grant for Tshering Dem to operate her farm in September – December 2020.

Due to the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, Tshering has not been able to implement her plan as stated in the proposal.

Mostly, the outbreak has increased the cost of materials needed to build the water storage and drainage system. Moreover, the cost of labor has been increased. The farm work, particularly paddy harvest which has just now finished, has delayed her proposed project. As a result, Tshering is planning to have the plastic water tanks installed instead of the cemented ones. The increasing cost of the infrastructure has made the funding only possible for the water storage setup which means that the drainage and the fencing need to be halted for the meantime.

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