Agricultural farming in Bebena was initiated to make beneficiaries self-sufficient in agriculture produce and market them if there was surplus. However, the farmland currently has turned barren since the project started four to five months ago.
As winter begins, the beneficiaries are preparing to plant winter vegetables but the land will be left barren for more than a month. Project coordinator B. B. Rai said that the soil has become hard and it needs to be irrigated for the time being. “The plantation will re-start in January and then they will follow up for nurturing,” he said adding the land would remain fallow till December.
He said that 25% of the beneficiaries (tourist guide, tour operator, hotelier, and spa) had left the agricultural farming. They have been replaced with other interested individuals who had applied for work in the area earlier. “There are still many individuals who wish to work in the farm. We are giving the opportunity to them.”
He said that from January 2020 they will focus on producing signature vegetables like onion and tomato since they are more in demand nationwide. With support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, all the areas have been ploughed and the land is being irrigated.
Bebena agriculture has 26 farming groups with five members each.
A tour operator and a beneficiary Pema Dorji said that they have asked the authorities for a greenhouse. “The ministry has agreed that it will help to construct a temporary greenhouse within a month, before the plantation starts.”
However, he mentioned that the temporary green house will be difficult to build as it requires more materials. Therefore, the beneficiaries have made a proposal to the ministry to help them with a construction of a permanent green house. “We hope that by December, everything will be ready and we can begin plantations by January,” he said adding he plans to grow potatoes in winter.
Vegetables that were planted recently have not seen growth due to the chill setting in and because right now, it is too late to plant new seedlings. “From January, we hope everything will be good as it is the season planting vegetables.” Pema Dorji mentioned that during the pandemic, with zero tourist arrivals in the country, farming has been their lifeline.
The Bebena agricultural farm beneficiaries hope to get an agricultural specialist who will guide them to achieving better growth of produce.
Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu