Agriculture: For the first time, two vegetables from Khatoed gewog in Gasa, garlic and potatoes have been certified organic by the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) in accordance with the Bhutan Organic Certification System (BOCS) guidelines 2013, according to an agriculture ministry press release.

This registered farmers’ group is the Rangshin Sonam Detshen from Khatoed gewog.

Khatoed gewog, located at an altitude of 2,300-2,900m above sea level, consists of 60 households of which 56 are actively engaged in farming. Fifty one households grow organic potatoes.

Desiree (red), the popular potato variety grown by this group is sown in February and harvested 5-6 months later. Garlic is sown in October and harvested 8-9 months later.

Today most food is grown conventionally to boost productivity, and organic farming is a novelty that requires encouragement, the press release states.

To encourage organic farming, a buyer-seller meet was held at the Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd in Thimphu between Rangshin Sonam Detshen and ten high-end hotels.

The meeting was mainly aimed at bringing the organic farming society one step closer to the high-end market and also to discuss the needs of the hotels, negotiate prices, workout the produce delivery modality and to find out the demand by these hotels for organic produce.

The meeting, chaired by the Gasa dzongdag, observed strong support from the hoteliers, which included Amankora, Taj Tashi, Pedling and Druk Hotel, among others, in taking organic farming to the next level.

The farmers will now grow organic garlics and potatoes, and soon to be certified organic carrots at a pre-determined price. The group has a capacity to produce more than 92 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes and 3MT of garlic each year with scope for further expansion.

In about a week a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between these organic farmers and hoteliers.

The meeting was convened by the Department of Agricultural Marketing & Cooperatives and supported by the National Organic Programme and BAFRA.

Staff reporter