01/10/2013

A Day in Wangduephodrang Farm

An extension agent ought to work in changing livelihood of farmers. Hence, to understand the lifestyle of a farmer, I was sent to work under a host family for about a month in one of the rural areas of Wangduephodrang District during my training period (March, 2011). It was often the most memorable part of any trainee’s college year for the reason that we tackled loads of thorny challenges while doing the work assigned by our host family. In college one has no other vital roles and responsibilities other than the studies, but in the farm there are lots of contractual obligations to be performed. A farmer gets engaged in several works in a single day so as to sustain their livelihood. During the occasion, I had seen a trainee be a milkman, a cowboy, a woodcutter, and lot more to study the incredible diversity within farming. 


College students assigned to build kitchen by a host family 
Potato plantation day would serve as a mere example of what a day in the farm might entail. The day started with a cup of tea. When I mention about the tea it do not mean that there was someone to wake me up with a cup of tea aside my bed. I still remember the day where I woke up when the sirens of alarm clock broke the silence of the dawn. Then I stumbled downstairs to get my face cleansed with water. Only after that I joined the host family to have a cup of tea. During the crack of dawn, Aum Yanka, the host mother went to feed the cattle. She walked me towards the cowshed with a bucket of food stuff. The cattle were fed with porridge like food. The two cows were milked by Aum Yanka and I was near her to note down the milk yield. At that particular instant I thought how could be my life if I were a milkman by profession. Before I was totally lost in the fantasy I heard Aum Yanka calling me to untie the calve. Ap Kinley, the host father cooked breakfast for the family. Sooner after the food was eaten, Agay Dengo, the oldest of the family took the cattle away from the village for grazing. Herding cattle was my routine assigned job but at that particular day I have joined the family to plant potato.

        Gelekha farm in Wangduephodrang
In the field, Aum Yanka sprinkled manure and Ap Kinley followed her to till the soil with power tiller. The steep gradient of the field leaves the use of other contemporary farm machinery out of question. But human hands and oxen cannot measure up to the challenge. Therefore, they somehow manage to use small machine like power tiller. I was instructed to be extra careful while sowing the seed. Chado, son of the host family was behind me to cover the sown seed with spade. Minute seemed to strike like a day and hour passed like a month for the reason that the farm works are easier said than done. 

I struggled to work in the field until the sun plunged down into west horizon. Though the work was incomplete, Ap Kinley decided to continue it in the next day. No sooner the rest was declared I have to rush into the forest to get back the cattle. Aum Yanka was ready with a kettle of tea for me when I returned home. It was six o’clock in the evening and I was incredibly tired. I couldn’t imagine what other seasons on the farm were like.

Dinner was served before I manage time to wash my body. Out here in the village, dinner was eaten in the early hours but I have no other alternative than joining them. I thought that I need some time to get myself adapted to their routine. After the dinner I sat near the fire to scribble down the daily report in my diary. Only at that moment I was reminded that I am no more a farmer but a trainee who was struggling in other's village to gain some practical knowledge on farming system. 

On the bed, I recollected upon my day. I was pleased to see that my host family truly operated together as a family with dedication and cooperation during the work hour. Each member had played a dynamic role allowing the potato plantation work to run smoothly. I was now equipped with some skills and knowledge to operate the farm. I now have an idea of how difficult a day on the farm is. Keeping such memories in my heart, I as a forestry extension agent would serve the farmers with full dedication.


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