Chhimi Dema

Agriculture ministry with support from UNDP has begun agriculture project to promote green jobs and winter vegetables production to supplement the government’s food security initiatives.

The project that began earlier this year has 381 beneficiaries including youth and laid-off employees from sectors affected by the pandemic.

Under the project, the pre-production works like land management, setting up greenhouses, and electric fencing have been completed; farms were ready for cultivation. Farms in Trongsa and Dagana are already under cultivation while those in Tsirang would commence its cultivation this winter.

According to a joint press release from the agriculture ministry and UNDP, the project supports Bhutan’s recovering efforts in line with UNDP’s Covid-19 2.0 programme priorities.

The 31-year-old Karma Jamtsho said that he worked in the tourism sector and seized the opportunity hoping to make some income. “I had barely any idea about farming before. The work is tiring but farming will ensure that I can sustain myself later.”

The beneficiaries were trained on the installation of greenhouse, nursery preparation, potting, transplantation, training of tomato under protective structure.

The project has prepared and brought 174 acres of land under cultivation.

In Trongsa, the project installed 70 greenhouses and 30 more were to be installed this month. Moreover, two mini tillers and power trillers were procured to assist land development and cultivation.

In Tsirang, 126 greenhouses have been distributed to the farmers.

The project also developed water storage ponds and distributed innovative solar e-fencing or chain links.

The project has three complementary outputs which focus on sustainable and smart vegetable farming, improving post-harvest market access, and reskilling and upskilling of youth for jobs in the agriculture sector.

In the first output area the project has procured, distributed, and installed micro-irrigation systems, provided solar-powered fence and chain links, supplied climate-resilient seeds, mulching materials for soil moisture retention and weed control, and nursery materials like plug trays and poly pots.

The second output of the project looks at establishing enterprise and agribusiness pack house units for storage and packaging, promoting packaging bags and product branding, and establishment of onion curing sheds.

The third output area looks at access to climate-resilient production technologies, the establishment of agribusiness and entrepreneurship, encouraging women and youth involvement.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk