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Integrated farming still popular among civil servants

Integrated farming, started four years ago at Wangsisina in Thimphu, is popular among civil servants.

The aim of Integrated Agriculture Technology Farming (IATF) is to demonstrate agriculture-based economic enterprise in an integrated, holistic and packaged production using appropriate farm technologies.

The farm is spread over 28.03 acres of government land.

Thimphu’s deputy chief agriculture officer, Dhodo, said that the farm was initially planned for out-of-school youth and those looking for employment opportunities in Thimphu.

“We focus on social mandates rather than on the production. Even if a person is interested in kitchen gardening, there is hardly any space in place like Thimphu,” said Dhodo. “It provides an opportunity for civil servants to participate in a healthy recreational activity and produce their own food.”

He said that IATF was estalished at a time when Bhutan was importing almost 80 percent of vegetable.

IATF provides information related to production and post harvest management to visitors, farmers, traders, and students interested in taking up farming.

Sonam Penjore had been working in one of the  plots in Wangsisina for the last four years. “It has been rewarding. Whatever we harvest is shared with neighbours  and relatives.”

After working in the plot, he said that his family only  had to buy a few vegetables which were not grown in the farm such as onion.

Last year, the farm also started poultry. This year, Thimphu dzongkhag administration plans to introduce fishery, vermin-compost technique, and to incorporate improved strawberry cultivation.

“Such integrated farm is difficult to be replicated in other places due to lack of resources such as land and money,” Dhodo said.

He said that the integraed farming was introduced to address shortage of homegrown vegetables and fruits channeled through an organised planning and management of agriculture development.

The farm’s overall planning encompasses eco-friendly technologies that are adaptive to changing climate and weather conditions for sustained production system.

Thimphu’s agriculture extension officer, NB Lama, said that plots are provided only to married individuals. “As the lone plot is about 10-15 decimal, the farming work needs more labour.”

Pema Lhaden is one of the 85 civil servants who had been working on the plot since 2014.

“I have a 10-decimal plot. Although it is a little far from where I live, it is fun to work. It is like a picnic for us,” she said.

About 50 new applicants got plots at the farm last year.

The farm was established at the cost of Nu 5 million.

Rinchen Zangmo

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