Our country Bhutan is a small country which is democratized recently has a small population with a literacy rate of 59.5%, mainly constituted by the youth. More than 80% of Bhutanese people live in rural areas in intimate commune with pristine environment sustaining on conventional agricultural practices but barely able to make ends meet.
As much as I feel dangerously right in what I’m writing that the greatest irony I’ve ever come across till this point of life is that the people who are said to be educated and hailed as knowledgeable are the ones resting their bumps on rotating chairs than to come in the field and show to their less disadvantaged fellow citizens what they have learned in theories in ACTIONS! Congruently, a tragedy is that other fellow citizens are also vacating fields and homes back in their villages and migrating to urban areas with a hope of getting “as a meadow on the other side looks greener” better life.
But who will bridge this gap?Who will work in the fields and feed the growing population and meet the demands of changing lifestyles in the country?
Is it not an irony that our country thrives by agriculture but yet we are importing loads of cereals from our neighboring country, India? Is it a sustainable development? Can we keep on echoing our developmental philosophy: “Gross National Happiness” which is of course, just remaining as a philosophy without actions in the backyard? Who can answer these all questions?
The contemporary youth are answers to all these answerable questions, for they are the posterity of tomorrow. Now, no more the youth of today shall “wait for the justice to fall from heaven” and they should be also reminded of what a great actor Mr. Amitabh Bachhan said at the IIFA award held in Bangkok this year,
“If not now, then when?
If not us, then who?”
The youth are the ones who should be empowered and nurtured to think “out of the boxes”. They should carry the messages that their parents are great citizens who had toiled hard in the fields to feed them. The youth should inherit indigenous knowledge of farming from their parents and incorporate with scientific and modern ways of the agriculture.
The present youth should know and realize that with the new form of the government in a place and every “Five Year Plan” passing by, every nook and corner of the country is getting connected by roads and ICT facilities and economic development is rapidly advancing. This bequeaths us a critical time to think and exploit an avalanche prospect of making life out of agricultural farming.
This year my class (of B.Sc. Life Science, final year) had a week long biological excursion in two dzongkhags, viz. Monggar and Bumthang. During the excursion, we had an opportunity to visit and learn about apiary, piggery, poultry and dairy farms. All of these farms were small, and few in number throughout the country. Research on horticulture and livestock were exhibited. We were informed and made aware about environmental conservation. The excursion had broadened my understanding about agriculture status and its potential for development of rural economy in the country. All of these had scintillated in me a dream of becoming, and changing my career in to, what I say to myself, a literate-modern-economic farmer.
Imagine, if many young people who constitute a majority of a literate population staying jobless or merely clinging to life by doing a cheap job in town go back to their villages to become farmer. Then work hard on unattended fields and start doing agro-business after a good planning and enterprise, then within the few years the country would be able to:
(i) Curtail down rural-urban migration
(ii) Improve and develop rural economy
(iii) Abate unemployment problem
(iv) Improve the life standard in rural areas
(v) Achieve food self-sufficiency, and many more.
But how can we achieve all these?
If we are ever able to initiate agricultural business in large scale but without compromising the conservation of our pristine environment, this will prove, no doubt, a multiple gateways to solving of the problems and giving birth to numerous opportunities.
I strongly go along with what our His Excellency of Health Ministry Lyonpo Zanglay Dukpa emphasized, “ The government will provide the ladder for all of you to climb but it is you who should climb it and get the most out of it and do not expect the government to push or pull you up.” In line with this, I would like to urge our government to come up with the banks which will loan young entrepreneurial farmers at the least interest for minimum of ten years to repay all. It has been also observed many people who migrate to towns are either those who do not have adequate land to grow enough food or are landless or their lands are inapt for cultivation of crops. It will be a great help for these people if the government ever gives them “sa ge kidu” (relocation of land) and provide them with the transportation facilities. More over if the government looks into the problem of inadequacy of land for those who want to come with a large scale production of poultry and dairy farming (any other farming) and assist in procuring new technologies from foreign countries to begin in the initial stages, I think these small initiatives from the government can make a giant leap in the establishment of Agro-businesses in the country.
In a nutshell, agriculture has a great prospect but needs people- especially the youth who have immense capability to the food security and viability of the agro business in the country. Partly in the words of Spiderman, “Knowledge is the power and along with the power comes the great responsibility.” By solving the ways to improve agriculture, we would be able to solve a cascade of problems and beget many opportunities. The fate and success of the agriculture entirely lies in the collaborative works of the people and the government which would be ensuring a food security in the ever growing crisis of food all around the globe. So as “not to wallow in the valley of despair” (King Martin Luther), it is extremely indispensable for all the people starting from policies makers, teachers, civil servants, students and common people to work towards the same goal of making our country Bhutan a SUSTAINABLE nation economically through agriculture also!
Author: Tharchen (aka Youngten Lempen Tharchen)
B. Sc. Life Science Final Year
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