Choosing The Path That Pays – How A 28 Year Old Farmer Benefited From Bhutan's Priority Sector Lending Scheme
“If I was a salaried employee, I would have never saved that much even in five years,” said Kinley Gyeltshen.
By Tshering Dorji | Kuensel
Two days ago, a 28-year-old Kinley Gyeltshen walked out of Bhutan National Bank’s branch office in Wangduephodrang, contented and relieved.
He had just liquidated his Nu 500,000 loan which he availed in March last year from the bank. Kinley Gyeltshen was the first recipient of the loan under the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) Scheme which the Royal Monetary Authority has initiated.
With good financial discipline, the 28-year-old is also the first PSL beneficiary to liquidate his loan before the end of the loan period.
In March last year, he availed the loan at eight percent interest for a period of one year.
“I was a bit sceptical,” he said. His concern was whether he would be able to repay the loan within the stipulated time.
“With the constant guidance and advice of the PSL committee, I was able to pay the loan before the term expired,” he said.
What made Kinley Gyeltshen interested in potato farming?
But his story is similar to the stories of other youth who are hunting for jobs in the concrete gullies of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. With a Bachelor’s Degree from Bangalore, India, he was just another jobseeker.
A son of farmers in Sha Khothakha, he has spent his teens learning the skills required for potato farming.
Potato farming in Bhutan.
Photo: Fontana Foundation
“Even while studying in college, farming was at the back of my mind,” he said.
He got a job in a private mining company but realised that he could save nothing and the salary was barely adequate enough to meet his expenditure.
When he heard of the PSL and that it would support agricultural activities, he grew more passionate about his dream.
He sought assistance from ‘Google Rinpoche’ and YouTube to learn more about potato farming, including soil fertility.
His application for the loan was approved and he jumped right into the task of farming.
By then, he had already gathered the potato seeds. The loan has helped him with the expenses for fencing and to refurbish the store in his traditional house.
“It entails tremendous amount of physical work and it was difficult at the beginning,” he said.
He also tried new methods of farming and claimed that it was quite different from what his parents and grandparents did.
Kinley Gyeltshen enjoyed the fruits of his harvest
By the end of the monsoon season, Kinley’s potatoes were growing on more than eight acres of land in Khothakha. He believes that he belongs to the farm and likes to call himself a ‘country boy’.
Then came harvest season and his yield filled three and a half truckloads. At the auction yard in Phuentsholing, the potatoes fetched him more than Nu 850,000.
However, this is only 80 percent of his yield. The remaining 20 percent, he said was sold in the local market.
When the potatoes left the field barren, he planted turnip and mustard instead.
“Cattle feed in winter was in short supply in the southern dzongkhags (districts),” he said.
The turnips and mustard are now supplied to the southern dzongkhags as cattle feed instead.
After repaying his loan, he said, he managed to save more than Nu 300,000.
He is looking forward to invest the savings in his farm and diversify the crops.
“If I was a salaried employee, I would have never saved that much even in five years,” he said.
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.