YK Poudel

Aimed at enhancing Bhutanese high-value agricultural products, 13 participants (officials and entrepreneurs) from Bhutan are taking part in three-day Agri-Food Tech Expo Asia (AFTEA) 2023 in Singapore.

With the theme “Enhancing food ecosystems for a sustainable future”, the expo that started yesterday ends on November 2—it is being promoted for priority investment to address food security, livelihood, and export.

Business entities from the country—Bhutan Agro Industries Limited, Druksell, Sibjam, Bhutan Mountain Coffee, Touch from Heaven, and Gurjo Herbal Tea—and officials from DAMC, are exhibiting a variety of Bhutanese products at the expo and with a series of meetings with potential importers and business associations in Singapore and the regional countries.

A total of 13 participants from Bhutan are taking part in the expo

The agricultural products from Bhutan were identified through the Hand-in-Hand (HIH) initiative of the government that was started in 2021.

High value agri-products refer to premium, healthy and well-branded products that are able to compete in the global market. “Bhutanese high value agri-products indicates those commodities which are exclusive and possess the Brand Bhutan image. It means, grown through environment friendly means with minimum or no use of chemical fertilizers thus comprising its unique natural taste,” an official said.

Products which can be put under this category are cordyceps, asparagus, black pepper, rainbrow trout, putka honey, and yaghu (yakmeat), among others.

Sales officer of Bhutan Agro Industry Limited (BAIL), Deejay Phuntsho, said that the participants from Bhutan are trying to showcase the Brand Bhutan image to external buyers, market, and investors. “BAIL has premium-certified products, Bhutan natural pineapple juice, apple juice and passion fruit juice in Singaporean market.”

The team, he said, aims to promote products from Bhutan manufactured in “eco-friendly way.”

On three key pillars of innovation, sustainability and safety, the participants are taking part in a panel discussion on cultivated food regulatory trends and importance of coordination, increasing the welfare of the smallholders and the potential of cellular agriculture ecosystems and strategies, among others.

The expo will help the entrepreneurs to connect with potential investors, traders, and explore the high-end market in Singapore and beyond.

Participants from 24 countries—183 exhibitors with 43 percent local exhibitors and 57 percent international exhibitors are showcasing their products in the expo.

The AFTEA is the region’s leading showcase platform for products, services, and solutions at the forefront of innovation in the global Agri-Food and Agri-Tech Industry.

Officials from the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Bhutan, and JICA Bhutan Office are taking part in the expo along with entrepreneurs.

The expo is supported by JICA Bhutan Office and UNFAO Bhutan.