… 30 percent of trees planted in the first phase died  

Chencho Dema | Punakha

The second phase of the nationwide DeSuung National Service Million Fruit Tree planting began yesterday in Guma gewog, Punakha with a demonstration of how to plant fruit seedlings. 

Fruit trees are being planted more effectively than in the first phase to reduce mortality. During the project’s initial phase, reportedly 30 percent of the fruit trees perished.

To ensure the project’s success, about 175 de-suups were trained in the cultivation and management of the fruit trees in January.

Six Agriculture Research and Development centres in the country hosted the five-day course organised by the agriculture and livestock ministry.

In the meantime, nationwide planting events for the project were also held across the country. Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor, Punakha dzongdag, officials from the agriculture ministry and de-suups planted seven pecan seedlings yesterday during the inaugural.

The Deputy Chief Horticulture Officer of the Department of Agriculture, Sangay Dendup said, “Mortality replacement for the first phase of the million fruit tree plantation project will be carried out simultaneously with the second phase.”

With the deployment of more than 818 de-suups, the plantation of temperate fruit seedlings will run from February 5 to March 30.

From June 5 to July 30, around 1,125 de-suups will be engaged in the subtropical plantation.

Over one million seedlings of 11 high-value fruit crops, including almonds, avocados and kiwis are expected to be planted nationwide over the course of four months.

Of that 20 percent of the fruit seeds are raised at nurseries in Bhutan, while 80 percent were imported from India.

Punakha agriculture office provided seedlings to 11 gewogs in Punakha.

According to the Assistant Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Chhoeda, some villagers began planting seedlings yesterday, but the official start of the plantation will be today.

“The seedlings have been distributed based on the number of farmers in the village,” he said.

Punakha planted 33,101 seedlings in 2022, of which 22,966 were temperate fruit trees and 10,135 were subtropical trees.

The dzongkhag received 7,400 replacement seedlings which were distributed to all 11 gewogs on February 1.

The demand from 11 gewogs is currently 6,497 seedlings, which will be delivered soon.

Guma gewog had the most replacement fruit seedlings of 1,131 seedlings, followed by Chubu with 885 and Toedpisa with 800 while Lingmukha had the lowest replacement with 284.

The project is a joint initiative of the DeSuung National Service and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock that aims to enhance the livelihood of rural communities.

Fruit seedlings of 22 different varieties were planted across the country within two and a half months.

Around the same time in 2024, the third phase of the Million Fruit Tree Plantation project will begin, according to agriculture officials. The five-year project which was launched in March last year will end in 2026.