Fourty-eight Bhutanese who were in Siliguri, Kalimpong, Sikkim and two from Jaigaon entered into the country from Phuentsholing yesterday.
This includes people who were employed in these places, monks, and students.
None of them showed symptoms of Covid-19. They were all taken to the quarantine centres.
Twenty-eight Bhutanese came from Kalimpong, 14 from Siliguri, and six from Sikkim. Three who had registered to come from Siliguri and one from Kalimpong didn’t come.
Unlike in previous cases transportation arrangements were taken care of by the Indian counterparts with support from the Royal Bhutan Embassy in India.
The vehicles brought the Bhutanese until Jaigaon.
A health official at the point of entry Bhutanese kept on entering from Phuentsholing on a daily basis.
“The only time people didn’t come were on April 13 and April 14,” he said.
With yesterday’s 50, Phuentsholing’s response team now has quarantined a total of 1,206 Bhutanese in more than 30 hotels. More than 1,000 have completed their 21 quarantine days.
As of yesterday, only six hotels were used as quarantine centres.
Following a directive from the dzongkhag administration, Chhubu Tshachu in Toewang Gewog, Punakha is temporarily closed.
The move came following the visit by the dzongkhag officials in the gewog a few days ago, according to Toewang Gup Touchu.
“The dzongdag, during the recent meeting, instructed village representatives to shut the tshachu immediately,” the gup said.
After the first Covid-19 positive case in the country, a group of villagers requested the gewog administration to close the tshachu for visitors.
According to the gup, the issue was raised several times during meetings with dzongkhag officials.
“However, the number of visitors had drastically dropped due to Covid-19 scare,” he said.
The residents applauded the move saying that this would help stop people from outside entering the locality.
“We are happy with people visiting the tshachu during other times but considering the current situation, it is good to discourage visitors currently,” a villager said.
When the agriculture ministry asked residents in Thimphu last month to apply for land to cultivate vegetables, many got together to form groups. The scheme could not materialise.
But there is no dearth of fallow land or space to grow crops in Thimphu dzongkhag.
Of the eight gewogs under Thimphu, a total of 238.10 acres of dry land and 19.50 acres of wetland have remained fallow in five gewogs, excluding the highland gewogs of Soe, Naro, and Lingzhi.
One of the nearest gewogs to Thimphu city, Genekha has the most fallow land with 151.50 acres of dry land and 7.85 acres of wetland. Just to the north of the town, Kawang gewog, which includes Kabisa area, has the second-largest amount of fallow land with 33.45 acres of dry land and 11.65 acres of wetland, according to records with Thimphu dzongkhag.
As per the Thimphu plan review for the Covid-19, the other gewogs with fallow land are Chang, Mewang, and Dagala.
Crop production and acreage of land use in the dzongkhag generally marked a gradual decline in recent years. For instance, a major cereal grown in the dzongkhag, paddy has dropped both in terms of acreage and production. From 632 acres producing 1,490 metric tonnes in 2016, paddy production fell to 1,323MT from 579 acres.
Similarly, the area for wheat and barley production reduced from 261 acres and 25 acres to 199 acres and 15 acres respectively. The three crops together recorded a fall from 1,820MT in 2016 to 1,566MT in 2018.
The dzongkhag has a poverty rate of 1.1 percent according to the Bhutan Poverty Analysis report 2017.
Thimphu Dzongkhag’s Agriculture Officer (DAO), Sonam Zangpo, said that the dzongkhag has been helping the communities to carry out commercial agriculture. “The fallow lands belonging to private individuals and institutions are favourable for farming, but these areas have remained fallow for many years.”
Sonam Zangpo said the main reason for fallow land was the shortage of farm labour. “With development, youths tend to move to urban areas, and only old people remain in the villages. They prefer other works compared to agriculture.”
“The land fragmentation and cheap agriculture produce from across the border are other factors.”
“Farmland gets divided among children. But only a few children stay in a village, and the land becomes fallow. Due to the economic opportunity in other sectors, people don’t stay in a village.”
Sonam Zangpo said that the government has been developing land to encourage mechanised farming. “The government is spending on land development, for instance making terraces on sloppy fields which are not suitable for cultivation and also widening the small terrace. Irrigation canals are also maintained.”
He said that Farm Machinery Corporation has been deploying power tillers and tractors with nominal hiring charges to help those farmers who don’t own machinery. Of the 118 power tillers in the dzongkhag, private individuals own 103, and the rest belongs to the government.
To control the human-wildlife conflict, the dzongkhag continuous to invest in installing electric fencing. Today, there are 141km of electric fencing, in 2016 the dzongkhag had 47km.
Genekha Gup Karma Gyeltshen said that despite various initiatives by the government, not many are interested in farming.
“Of the five chiwogs in my gewog, three chiwogs have favourable climatic conditions to grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. But only a few households do.”
He said that the Covid-19 situation had reignited the interest in large scale farming in villagers.
There are around 250 households and more than 1,500 people in Genekha gewog.
The dzongkhag has a registered population of 24,185.
40th DeSuung training programme to start soon
His Majesty The King granted an audience to 399 volunteers of the 38th batch (accelerated) DeSuung programme at Paro Drukgyal Central School yesterday.
The accelerated programme was held upon Royal Command to impart health and security training to DeSuups so that they can supplement the work of existing personnel working across the country in various capacities to combat Covid-19.
His Royal Highness Prince Ugyen Jigme Wangchuck is among the DeSuups undergoing training in Paro.
The three-week training being held in seven locations simultaneously across the country for 2,468 volunteers concludes on April 25.
Registration for the 39th batch, with 2,520 volunteers, began yesterday.
Meanwhile, due to the overwhelming numbers of volunteers registering for the 39th batch, the DeSuung office has announced that the 40th DeSuung training programme will also be an accelerated programme which will be held immediately upon the completion of the 39th batch.