…with assistance from JICA

Agriculture: The introduction of Integrated Horticulture Promotion Project (IHPP) will enable farmers in Wangdue, Punakha, Tsirang and Dagana to take up integrated farming from next year.

As part of the project, the Research and Development Center (RDC) in Bajo, Wangdue will distribute the saplings in the four dzongkhags to enable farmers to grow multiple crops at the same time.

RDC’s programme director, Ngawang said farmers in the western region mostly grow paddy. “The agriculture ministry aims to encourage farmers to grow more cash crops to improve their livelihood besides paddy,” he said.

The integrated farming project would include vegetables but the focus would be more on fruits given its market potential and location of the dzongkhags.

The centre has already started a nursery with the help of three experts from JICA to be able to supply the seedlings and saplings to the farmers by next year.

The project, a first of its kind in the western region, is expected to benefit farmers like it did in the eastern region. The RDC in Wengkhar provides similar facilities. The production will be expanded with appropriate technologies in the targeted areas and develop an implementation system for promotion of horticulture.

The project is expected to strengthen fruits, vegetable seed and seedling production system at RDC besides training and extension systems. It also aims to identify private nurseries or seed growers and provide training for quality seedlings and technical support.

RDC officials are yet to meet the farmers regarding the new project but they are optimistic that the farmers would gladly take it up.

Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu, at the launch of the project, said that more cooperation between the two countries would follow this year. “We hope to contribute as much as possible to Bhutan,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of the agriculture sector, foreign minister Damcho Dorji said that commercial farming or market-oriented production is possible with increased farmer knowledge and awareness in production techniques, availability of quality seeds and market opportunities, among others.

“30 years of technical collaboration and financial assistance from Japan greatly helped Bhutan transform from a mere subsistence farming to commercialized culture,” lyonpo said.

JICA’s chief representative to Bhutan Yumiko Asakuma is hopeful that the four dzongkhags are ready for the new project. “I hope it would also contribute to the economic well being of the farmers in the region,” she said.

Department of Agriculture’s director general, Nim Dorji said that the IHPP is another milestone in the Japan-Bhutan cooperation in the field of agriculture. “The Taklai irrigation channel, which remained as a biggest challenge due to fragile geology at the intake point has been reconstructed using new Japanese technology,” he said.

The foreign minister and the Japanese ambassador launched the project yesterday in Thimphu.

Tashi Tenzin