United, Empowered, and Happy
‘I was born and raised in Jangbi. I have three children. My eldest son graduated from a traditional art academy in Trashiyangtse and works at Paro. While my middle child completed her bachelor’s in education and teaches at the Jangbi PS. And the youngest child works at Phuentsholing after completing his engineering studies in India.
Life before was very miserable. Our parents neither have enough food to eat nor enough clothes to wear. I feel our ancestors weren’t able to prosper because of our bon beliefs and sacrifices.
Our houses were also small and made from bamboo that were very frail and susceptible to weather damage. With Tarayana Foundation’s interventions led by Her Majesty The Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck over a decade ago, our lives have changed drastically. We were fortunate to receive housing and fooding support, as well as agricultural assistance.
I am part of a self-help group called Jangbi Aumtsu Tseytsay Deytsen (Jangbi Women Vegetable Group) for the past three years. The community members were suggested to start an SHG a long time ago that could materialize only three years ago with an initial member of 7 individuals. The group works together to organically produce vegetables such as radishes, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and spinach for the local market. The pandemic has hampered our marketing recently.
We started the group to motivate one another during the intensive stage of
agriculture as well as empower each other by sharing the income. We have a bank account maintained with Bhutan Development Bank.
The group has leased land from one of its members. We have started our farming for this year. Last year we were able to earn about Nu. 10,000 each. The group members also received support to build greenhouses at home for production as well. I feel working in a group is more convenient and productive as we can share the workload as well and support one another.
When the group receives support from outside, locals share with us their regret for not joining us. We have stipulated a clause where new members must pay a certain percentage of the group’s account to join the group. We have continuously received support from the Foundation with greenhouse materials and vegetable seeds being the latest aid. We haven’t looked into availing loans yet as we feel hesitant about our ability to pay back the loan. We have also received support from the Ministry of Agriculture in the form of training – that has taught us new methods of sowing, making beds, and harvesting.
Our plans for this year and years to come are to always do better than the year before both in terms of income and productivity. We cannot grow potatoes and spring onions here. While cabbages, cauliflower, and chilies are only grown in the greenhouses. The village does not have a secure supply of water with erratic and mistimed rainfalls. Being an all-women group, we either have to hire labor or call our husbands when there are very heavy activities such as plowing and tilling soil and building greenhouses.
My husband along with partners of other group members are very supportive of our venture. I am proud and confident in myself. I also feel I am empowered and capable of taking up a lead role in farming and agriculture with my experience. I also actively participate at the local gathering as I can stay updated with the local happenings as well as contribute my thoughts.’