… under the FAO’s One Country One Priority Product initiative 

Staff reporter 

Bhutan has identified Quinoa as a priority crop under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) ‘One Country One Priority Product’ initiative.

Agriculture Secretary Thinley Namgyel announced it during the regional launch of the Global Action on Green Development of Special Agricultural Products (SAPs): “One Country One Priority Product” (OCOP) on May 10.

Quinoa was introduced in Bhutan in 2015 through FAO’s support mainly to reduce the country’s nutritional gaps. “We are promoting Quinoa as a nutrient-dense, climate-resilient, and economically viable crop across all agro-ecological zones in Bhutan, and later as a potential niche organic crop for the export market,” said the secretary during the virtual launch.

He said: “Of all, I am honoured to inform that Bhutan has many special agriculture products such as organic products, and products produced under natural agro-ecosystem and pristine environment, and traditional products. Today, Bhutan is proud to be a part of the One Country One Priority Product initiative, and we’re pleased to inform that we have identified Quinoa as the crop for OCOP.”

Quinoa was been selected as the priority crop under the OCOP initiative to enhance food and nutritional security of the Bhutanese people, to diversify the cropping and food basket; it is a climate-resilient and a versatile crop for diverse agroecology as well as a potential export crop for income generation for farmers. There is potential to increase production and improve marketing efficiency through technology interventions in the production and value chain.

Bhutan has also established Quinoa as one of the key National Commodity Programmes to harness its multi-dimensional benefits. “Strategically, we have focused on varietal screening, improving production management, integrating value addition, and marketing; to diversify the varieties, improve productivity, efficiency, competitiveness, connectivity and sustainability,” said the secretary.

Given the versatile capacity of the Quinoa to adapt to different growing conditions, the crop has successfully adapted to the challenging mountain farming environments where various abiotic stresses like varying precipitation, dry spells, extreme temperature regimes, and frost limit farmers’ choices of food crops production.

Thinley Namgyel said that as a part of the OCOP initiative, Bhutan seeks FAO’s technical support to increase production and improve productivity and improve value additions, market access and trade.

The government has also connected OCOP to another FAO programme – the Hand-in-Hand initiative for synergies and coherence in governance where other crops such as asparagus, and strawberries are pursued to boost production.

The secretary said that adopting Quinoa as Bhutan’s OCOP crop would improve food and nutrition security and ensure better income for the rural communities.

Thinley Namgyel said that the role of the private sectors and business entities in exploring and connecting with rural farmers would be crucial.