Agriculture sector is the main driver of food self-sufficiency and sustainable development in Bhutan. Of the country’s total geographical area, only about 3 percent is arable land. In view with this, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) has identified agriculture land development as one of the priority programs in the 12th Five Year Plan. Being located in the mountainous regions with steep slopes and rugged topography along with climate frequent natural disasters makes agriculture farming difficult in the country. To this end, sustainable land management and development is one of the adaptation measures to address these issues.
In order to drive this policy initiative, the project titled ‘Supporting Climate Resilience and Transformational Change in the Agriculture Sector in Bhutan’ implemented by the Royal Government of Bhutan with the fund support from Green Climate Fund (GCF) and technical assistance from UNDP Bhutan has benefited Wangling and Baling villages, Langthel Gewog in Trongsa through agriculture land development programs. The National Soil Service Center (NSSC) under the DoA provided hands on trainings and technical supports in collaboration with the Gewog Agriculture Sector and the Dzongkhag. The total of 42.71 acres of steep slopes dryland was converted into cultivable agricultural lands.
The main objectives of this program are:
- To promote resilient agricultural practices in the face of changing climate patterns
- To integrate climate change adaptation measures with water and land management practices to benefit smallholder farmers
- To reduce the risk and impact of climate change induced landslides during extreme events, which affects transportation and disrupts market access
- To help farmers make use of available farm machineries to reduce farm labor and drudgery
- To reduce cost and time spent on farming
- To increase production by making the land more suitable for cultivation
In order to realize the objective of this program, Wangling and Baling villages in Trongsa was selected for land development as the land topography is sloped, stony and steep which is difficult for crop cultivation. The program was started in the 2nd week of December 2020.The team met with the farmers and trained them on layout for bench terracing, site demarcation, and briefed them on the importance and efficacy of land development for increased food production and retention of soil nutrients. After the land is developed, the farmers would be able to use mechanized farming techniques as opposed to traditional ways of farming.
Till date, the program has covered 23.21 acres at Wangling and 19.5 acres at Baling, benefitting 32 households comprising 61 males and 78 females. Further, the geog and project have plans to develop around 72.37 acres of land for sustainable land development activities through bench terracing, wetland consolidation, hedge row plantation, stone bund, orchard development, water harvesting etc.
It is very encouraging to observe that more and more farmers are showing interest and coming forward for their land development for cultivation of various crops. Therefore, this initiative will have positive impacts towards agricultural landscape improvement and will definitely benefit the farming communities at present as well as in future.
Contributed by:Damanti Kumari,
Gewog Agriculture Officer, Langthel Gewog, Trongsa