“Had it not been for the timely support of the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project (FSAPP), my dream of an educated farmer, and a small agribusiness would have remained a distant dream,” says Ms. Kamana Gurung.
Kamana Gurung is a 32 years old English literature graduate turned farmer of Samtenling Gewog under Sarpang Dzongkhag. Kamana’s passion for organic farming led to the incubation of a successful agribusiness. She started the PK Organic Farm, which is the first organic farm under Samtenling Gewog. The increasing awareness on the harmful effects from the consumption of imported vegetables, which are produced conventionally using pesticides motivated her to start the organic farm. She always feels that she can contribute towards the well being of community by making available safe, fresh, nutritious and locally produced organic vegetables, while meaningfully self-employing herself. Aspiring to be a model for youth, Kamana chose spade over pen amidst criticism from her friends and family.
Kamana leased in 4.6 acres of private land with loan availed through the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) scheme of the government. According to her, the PSL loan was very modest that only covered her expenses for land development and purchase of some farm tools. When she was in critical need of assistance, the Agriculture sector of Sarpang Dzongkhag provided the much needed support and rescued her through FSAPP funds. She used the FSAPP contribution to expand the area, improve irrigation and diversify her production with different varieties of vegetables and spices. Understanding the benefits of an integrated approach, she started rearing cattle for manure which also contributed to income from the sale of dairy products.
Today, she harvests around 75-160 kgs of fresh Chilies weekly, along with other vegetables. Vegetable vendors from as far as Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdiphodrang visit her farm for purchase of organic vegetables. Now she is overwhelmed with demand for fresh organic vegetables. Kamana’s net income in 2018 and 2019 was 4,42,862.00 (Table 1). “I will be liquidating my PSL loan this February 2020 with this income,” says Ms Kamana, with confidence. She is highly motivated with the income, and aspires to expand her farm by leasing in more Government Reserve Forest (GRF) into a mega model organic farm.
Apart from making her livelihood, Kamana also makes social contribution by engaging disadvantaged school children in her farm during their vacation. She has also been sponsoring three children of which two are school goers, while the eldest one helps her in the farm. The success of PK Organic farm has already spread beyond Sarpang Dzongkhag. She receives visitors of all levels ranging from farmers to policy makers. The most pressing problem Kamana is facing in her farm is intrusion and crop damage by wild animals mainly elephants.
The FSAP project has made a big contribution to develop a successful woman agribusiness leader who can be a role model and a living example for the youths in Sarpang. The Dzongkhag Agriculture sector will use Kamana and her agribusiness as an example to promote youth groups in other potential agribusiness.
Ms. Deki Lhamo
Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer
Dzongkhag Administration, Sarpang