WCP launches farmer's school
Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP) has successfully launched a ‘Farmers’ school’ in Dungkar under the Eastern Range of the park. Supported by US-AID’s Asia High Mountains Program of WWF, that covers Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.
The Farmers’ school is a platform to learn and share issues that affect farmers. Farmers get together to discuss intervention measures to common problems affecting them such as pest infestation, availability of water for agriculture, soil erosion, seed storage or fertilizers and pesticides.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the 162 households in Kurtoe Gewog and needs to be further supported as farmers are increasingly victimized by effects of climate change.
Since there are no alternate sources of livelihood in the gewog, the local community is heavily reliant on natural resources. According to Netra Binod Sharma, the WWF co-manager of the park, more than 90 percent of the households depend on agriculture, forest products and livestock for their livelihood.
With average farm size holdings of less than 1 hectare, loss of agricultural productivity directly impacts the food security of these subsistence farmers. Rice is the most prevalent crop, along with maize and vegetables for self consumption.
Netra added, “With increasing rural-urban migration, human-wildlife conflicts and pest infestation and erratic rainfall due to climate change and soil erosion, ensuring food security is a challenge.”
Apart from being a platform for farmers to share and learn from one another’s experiences, the program also aims at conserving traditional knowledge on crops and water management.
Under the program, farmers also get to learn new farm technology, seeds, bio-manures and pesticides and land management. As of now, around 10 farmers (mostly women) have been trained on recording daily weather data.