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by Tshering Wangmo “Ongmo”, Tang Farmers, Bumthang
Farming is the main source of income where I live. I grow many different types of vegetables in my fields, and farming holds a deep meaning in my life. To become a farmer is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Exchange with Austrian colleagues
Since participating in the training offered by the Organic Farmers Exchange Program (OFEP) in Austria, I have slightly changed my farming methods. I was interested in expanding my farm and food-processing business and for this I received support from Bhutan Network and additionally funds from Franzi, a generous Austrian sponsor and Bhutan Network supporter.
I have always sold my vegetables in the nearby markets and also in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. However, before the OFEP exchange I was not really aware of fruit and vegetable preservation and crop protection methods. In Austria I learned a lot about these things from Rosina Feldinger, an organic farmer in Salzburg. I am still in touch with her. I didn’t earn money during the exchange because it was a study tour, but I gained invaluable insights and experience in new techniques that widened my horizon and made me feel more confident.
Back home, after the exchange program, I helped my fellow villagers and bought fruits from them to make homemade jam, something I had learned in Salzburg. By doing this, I added new value to what we were producing. For me it is not about profit but experience that counts more when getting opportunities for study tours abroad where we can meet our colleagues. This is very important for us young farmers!
Sea buckthorn and strawberries
Sea buckthorn grows along our river in Tang but was never used for anything as we farmers here didn’t have any idea what to do with it until I came back from my OFEP tour with a bag full of ideas. We have just had the right season for harvesting (it starts from 3rd week of September and lasts till 2nd week of December), so local farmers helped collecting sea buckthorn berries, which I paid them for – making them happy too. We do that every year now and whenever I get the time, I join in the picking as well.
Learning new things
So, depending on the time of the year I am very busy picking my strawberries, collecting fruits from farmers and until very recently collecting sea buckthorn by the river side. I try out new things and slowly my food processing business is developing. For every opportunity to learn more I am grateful.
Upcoming is a baking and cooking workshop with Kinley Wangmo in late December, sponsored by Bhutan Network – I can’t wait!