Farming: Aum Sangay, 56, from Shumar in Pemagatshel, may be just any ordinary farmer, but she is also a hard working farmer, who believes trying every new farming methods the government officials introduce in the village.
Holding a spade with her right hand, Aum Sangay points to a lush vegetable garden below her house. She says: “All this was possible because I decided to try vegetable production when officials were distributing free seeds”.
From vegetables in her garden, she makes about Nu 30,000 in a year. She also sells dairy products like butter, cheese and milk.
Willingness and curiosity are two words gewog officials use to described Aum Sangay. When rest of the villagers were reluctant, she did not hesitate to come forward to try new methods.
Aum Sangay was the first person to construct biogas in her chiwog when rest were reluctant. Today, after seeing her reap the benefit, others have started coming forward to construct the biogas.
“Many say they will first see how it works and then they will decide, but I believe in trying out everything,” Aum Sangay said. “I rather feel happy I’m able to help others decide and I’ve realized whatever government introduces it for our own benefit.”
The biogas has not only helped her cut expenditure on LPG cylinder but also helped produce manure for her vegetables. That way, she has been able to double her vegetable production.
“I want to utilize the land that my parents left behind because this is where I have grown up. With times we should adapt new method to improve farming,” said Aum Sangay.
She was the first to join a vegetable cooperative. The group today is the most successful in the gewog today. She was also a cooperative chairman until she gave up the position to encourage others to take the responsibility.
Gewog Agriculture Extension Agent, Sha Bahadhur, said Aum Sangay works through out the year and maintains record of vegetable and dairy products meticulously.
“Whenever we go to the chiwogs, we always see her in the field, trying out her own farming methods,” he said. “Her data is useful for official work and the vegetable group has been surviving because she keeps encouraging other members.”
When the vegetable season is off, Aum Sangay makes income by selling pears and peanuts that help her earn more than Nu 10,000 a year.
“I had first planted pears and peanut for my children but then it clicked my mind what if I sell in the market. That is how I learned I shouldn’t depend only on vegetables.”
Aum Sangay said that Bhutanese farmers are afraid to try new things. “Before, whatever we grew was for our self-consumption. But the government taught us that we could earn from vegetables and crops we grow.”
Gewog Livestock Extension Agent, Cheku Wangchuk said Aum Sangay was the first farmer who quickly responded to construct improvised cowshed followed by other farmers.
“She is a curious farmer, who always come seeking for new ideas and technology. Other farmers do look up to her as an example. That is indeed very encouraging,” said Cheku Wangchuk.
Aum Sangay goes through her small notebook and proudly announces that she made about Nu 100,000 last year from vegetables, peanut, pears, butter and cheese. She wants to make more this year.
“I thank the government for putting an effort to help us. I’ve been able to educate my three sons but I kept my daughter at home so that she could learn like me,” she said. “These days, it is hard even for educated to find a job. I want my children to be successful with farming.”
Her 27-year-old daughter, Ugyen Dema, said she has always seen her parents work hard and admires her enterprising mother.
“I want to follow my mother’s footsteps. I have already started giving importance to the farming instead of only weaving and cooking at home,” said Ugyen Dema.
Aum Sangay is now sitting for her evening tea. She believes that if people work hard, government will encourage farming in the villages.