The National Organic Flagship Programme (NOFP) will engage more than 200 youth as entrepreneurs and create 1,571 job opportunities this year.
The NOFP will be implemented in a mission mode program through cluster or focused village approach under the Department of Agriculture (DoA) with an approved budget of Nu 1bn.
NOFP’s Program Director Kelzang Tshomo said some of the crops that are imported from other countries are banned by the government, so they are planning to substitute those crops.
“To support that from the flagship programme we want to give priority to youth and try to create an opportunity for setting up businesses, enterprises or entrepreneurship,” she said.
She added that this programme will increase production of the 10 identified commodities such as ginger, cardamom, turmeric, mushroom, quinoa, and buckwheat for export markets and asparagus, beans, cauliflower and chili for domestic markets.
Under the NOFP, the DoA is hoping to encourage young farmers who are interested in agriculture to come up with organic agriculture and also engage them in the value change of so many crops. The youth will be engaged in production, processing and marketing.
Meanwhile, the budget will be invested in integrated landscape management and community based organic production, creating access to bio-inputs, organic research and certification system to create access to international markets, promotion of Foreign Direct Investments, Public Private Partnership, Cottage and Small Industry, agriculture land development and mechanization; which are some of the priority areas identified for the 12 FYP.
“We are hoping that if some of the youth cannot setup their business, they will be coming up either to do production and processing so that more people will be employed in various posts in the organic sector,” said Kelzang Tshomo.
She cited some of the examples that they will have such as animal feed production, forest lemon grass and other they want to engage young people and take up business.
“It will be fresh outlook on what is organic farming is; it is not a regular farming,” said Kelzang Tshomo.
She added that there are lots of youth in villages who are school dropouts, who are working in the farm and they want to engage them as many as possible to take up organic farming.
“Organic farming is more calculated, managed and there is more science involved in organic farming,” she said.
According to Kelzang Tshomo, some of the lands in villages are left fellow and the government is helping some of them to develop their land and get production started. So organic farming may be one of the opportunities where youth can take up production or processing of one the commodities.
Likewise, she said that some of the farmers don’t know what to grow on their land; they face challenges to sell their products in the market. But with the flagship program the whole value change is going to be managed, and farmers will not have to worry about technical support and marketing.
The Department of Agriculture, Marketing and Cooperative Services will also help them to look out for markets and linking them to markets.
“It will be much easier for them. They can tie up with potential markets to export or internal domestic markets,” the Program Director said.
She added that they want to see how they can support women to take up business approach in farming and youth to take up business in organic agriculture.
“Women and youth will be given more priority and depending on their education level they can engage in many areas,” she said.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu