The Incredible Story of How a Matching Grant Scheme Helped a Young Man Find a New Passion
Mr. Tshering Dorji, a 30-year-old B.Com. graduate, from Rangjung Trashigang, is the proprietor of Paksam Horticulture Nursery, a farm established with matching grant supported by CARLEP. Following his graduation in 2017, he worked for a short time in the private sector before traveling to Japan as part of an earn and learn program. Upon his return from Japan, he was unemployed for over a year. He had to rely entirely on his wife.
“I didn’t have any additional revenue to add to my wife’s monthly income. I felt helpless,” says Tshering.
Tshering was extremely hopeful and ecstatic when he discovered through ARDC-Wengkhar that CARLEP is providing a grant to interested entrepreneurs. He always had a keen interest in agriculture. He approached ARDC Wengkhar for assistance in developing a project proposal, which he then submitted to the project office. Consequently, he was successful in receiving the matching grant and he began his nursery venture in 2021.
Under the CARLEP matching grant scheme, he was supported 50% of the total investment. The 50 % of his investment is linked to personal savings and loan from His Majesty’s Kidu Relief support loan scheme through Queens Project Office. This enabled him to purchase his nursery equipment and other materials. Tshering receives continuous assistance, guidance, and technical support from ARDC as needed.
Currently, Tshering grows as many fruit seedlings as possible without worrying about the market. He sells the seedlings directly to the district agriculture office, ARDC Wengkhar, the National Seed Centre, and farmers in the eastern region. Last year, he produced 1000 avocado seedlings, 2000 peach seedlings, 5000 pears, 400 kiwi seedlings, and 400 dragon seedlings. Selling avocados to the Fruit Intensification Program financed by CARLEP brought in a total of Nu. 0.06 million for him. By selling about 800 avocado seedlings to the Million Fruit Tree Project, he also earned Nu. 0.012 million. He believes selling temperate fruit seedlings on top of avocado seedlings in the coming season would enable him to generate even more income.
Tshering is extremely proud to be a farmer in Bhutan after overcoming all of life’s obstacles and achieving financial stability through this endeavour. Moreover, he is privileged of working with modern farming technologies compared to traditional farming which is labour intensive.
“I feel modern agricultural technologies like protected agriculture, drip irrigation, and sprinkler have made farming easier and very convenient for start-ups like me”, Tshering says.
However, Tshering believes there are a lot more to learn in order to succeed in this field. He plans on making a long-term investment in the nursery business.
“In the near future, I would like to expand my project from small scale to mega project and provide employment opportunities for unemployed youths”, he mentions.
Through the matching grant program, CARLEP has initiated a number of programs in collaboration with the Dzongkhag administration and Regional Offices to address youth unemployment. Six enterprises mostly involving youths have been supported by CARLEP through the matching grant. Like Tshering and other youths, CARLEP will continue supporting youth to seek meaningful, economically viable careers in rural areas.
This intervention marks progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.