Collaboration: A 12-member delegation from Thailand is in the country to identify  future areas of collaboration between the two countries.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji, during a meeting with the Thai delegation on September 22, said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) of Thailand and Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) of Bhutan has been an important recognition of the two countries’ affiliation.

The partnership has benefited both the countries in the field of agriculture and cooperatives, he said.

Lyonpo added that with MoAC’s long-standing experience and expertise in agriculture and rural development, the agriculture ministry has gained knowledge through exchange programmes, study visits and technical assistance from Thailand.

“Through this MoU, we have also benefited from the germplasm resources and would like to continue to seek your support particularly in these areas,” Lyonpo added.

Thailand’s agriculture and cooperatives minister, who is leading the Thai delegation, General Chatchai Sarikulya, said that the meeting is a good opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the two countries in agriculture.

General Chatchai Sarikulya said that food security is very important for both the countries and it is important that the countries focus on producing enough quality food.

It is also important to know how to use latest technologies to increase agricultural produces in the country, General Chatchai Sarikulya added. “I ensure that our collaboration will continue and Thailand will support Bhutan.”

The future areas for collaboration include landscaping, technical expertise for establishment of landscaped gardens at the Agriculture Research and Development Centre in Wengkhar, Mongar and Research and Development Centre in Yusipang, Thimphu; Biotechnology training; capacity building in floriculture landscaping; and equipment, material and training on processing, value addition and packaging.

Capacity development including short-term trainings and attachment for representatives of farmer groups and cooperatives in Thailand, short-term attachment for agriculture department officials at relevant institutions to learn good practices, strengthening farmer groups and cooperatives and capacity development on trade and marketing practices in Thailand are some of the areas for collaboration.

Besides training programmes for Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regularity Authority (BAFRA) officials on food borne disease outbreaks, investigation and fielding in experts to operationalise the existing equipment at the authority’s National Food Testing Laboratory in Yusipang, food labelling is another area that the countries can collaborate on. BAFRA director general, Namgay Wangchuk suggested Thai products have English labels.

He said that Bhutan imports many Thai products that are solely labelled in Thai.

“It is the consumer’s right to know what the food product that he/she is eating contains,” Namgay Wangchuk said. “The Food Rules and Regulations of Bhutan 2007 require all imported food products for sale in the country to be labelled either in Dzongkha or English.”

Department of Agriculture’s director general with MoAC, Somchai Charnnarongkul, said that the ministry will talk with the agency concerned about having Thai products labelled in English.

Since 2010, after an MoU was signed between the two ministries, a significant achievement has taken place in various departments of both the ministries.

Development of floriculture and amenity landscaping centre in Dechencholing, development in Chimipang Agriculture Demonstration Training Centre and capacity development and exchange programmes in terms of rice production, irrigation, extension and communications, among others are some of the achievements of collaboration till date.

During the three-day visit, the delegations will visit the ARD centres in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro.

Dechen Tshomo