The story of Chador Bida of Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan
Chador Bida is a 29-year-old farmer from the village of Malung in Thedtsho, Wangduephodrang, Bhutan. She has been into farming since she was a schoolgirl. She used to help her parents in the farm after school hours and during holidays.
After dropping out from her Class 8 primary education, she concentrated on farming, and today she tends to six acres of wetland and an acre of dry land together with her sister and brother-in-law.
Chador’s family is composed of her parents, sister and brother-in-law. As in most households, their main problem is lack of cash for their basic needs. To supplement their income, she sells some of the rice produced in their farm though, at times, the yield barely meets their own requirements. Selling of seasonal vegetables from her garden also contributes to the family budget. During winter, she grows some wheat or mustard for her family’s consumption. She also keeps a few heads of cattle as source of milk and other dairy products with the excess sold in the local market.
In 2001, the Research Center in Bajo conducted a baseline study to determine the needs and priorities of farmers related to plant genetic resources and identify the active, knowledgeable, motivated and enthusiastic members of the community. Chador was among the farmers found to be receptive to the program and was included in the first batch of trainees for BUCAP . She attended a training session on seed selection and rehabilitation and participated in other Farmer Field School (FFS) activities. Her family’s farm was chosen as a “learning plot” where researches on plant varietal selection (PVS) and other PGR activities were conducted.
Being a BUCAP farmer changed her life. The PVS training helped her in selecting high-yielding varieties which also possess other desirable characteristics like resistance to pests and diseases, non-lodging, less or non-shattering, etc. The seed selection training likewise guided her in choosing disease-free and healthy varieties which increased yield in subsequent cropping seasons. She learned the importance of older varieties and the danger involved in cultivating only improved varieties if serious pest or disease outbreak affect these. As a form of conservation, she cultivates both improved and local varieties in different acreage every cropping season. The farm implements and tools provided by the program helped in improving efficiency as plant protection measures can now be easily done with a sprayer while serrated sickles made it easier to cover more area during harvest time.
Her frequent interaction with extension workers and researchers significantly boosted her confidence. Her inclusion in field trips and study tours to various institutes both in her country and abroad contributed to her education and development. The most memorable moment for her was when she went on a study trip to Vietnam which she never dreamt of ever happening in her life.
Chador has high hopes for her family. She dreams of having a more diversified farming system with vegetables, piggery, dairy and fruits to earn more cash. Using the knowledge she learned from the program, she aspires to see the day when she could produce more than enough rice for her family and the commercial market.
BUCAP was a means for Chador to associate and develop linkage with different people. “I have met researchers, extension workers and other farmers and I’m confident that these people will help her one day in agriculture-related or other matters.
Today, whenever a problem occurs regarding farming, Chador’s neighbors seek her help since they know that she has the capacity to assist them in seeking solutions. This is one manifestation that BUCAP had not only benefited individuals but the community as a whole.
Written by Sangay Tshewang, Neelam Pradham, and Mahesh Ghimiray