“My parents persuaded me to join a private school after I didn’t qualify for class 11 but I didn’t want to. I wasn’t so good at studies and chose to stay in my village with my parents instead. They owned a small grocery store so I helped them there. I eventually got married.

Through the NGO Bhutan Networks, I got to go to Austria in 2016 for an organic farming exchange programme. There, I learnt about their farming methods. My husband and I started to collect wild strawberries, and I used what I learnt in Austria to make jam. I even bought fruits from other villagers that would have gone to waste to make jam. People in the village don’t eat it, so I didn’t have a market for a while. However, the Queen’s project started putting in orders for jam and I sold them at their stores. I could make more than 1000 jam bottles each season.

I used to run a homestay and sell local products there too. Many tourists liked the sweet jams. Without tourists during COVID, I lost a lot of business. Bhutanese people don’t enjoy the sweetness as much as the tourists do. With encouragement from certain individuals, I started a farm, and was given 300 strawberry seedlings to farm in 30 decimals. I planted the strawberries in May. Since I had only planted potatoes before I was slightly worried. However, my confidence grew once they started growing. I now sell my strawberries as table fruit. I still go and collect wild strawberries to make jam.

Before this I didn’t have an interest in farming. People see growing and selling strawberries as my job, but I see it as a part of my life. Some people keep their work to themselves without teaching other people, but I have been advising other young dropouts. Some of them have even started farming. I have one daughter in class 9 who is also not very interested in studying. I don’t insist that she needs a government job. Instead, I teach her about my own job, taking her to the fields or showing her the different processes involved. Many people love seeing my strawberry farm. I take the village children around and feed them my strawberries. When others are happy, it makes me more eager to work hard.”
#Humanstory #Humansofthimphu

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