More than 25 acres of land belonging to 53 households of Khatoe and Khame gewogs are being used for commercial vegetable plantation. Activities like this has enabled the eastern dzongkhags to see an upsurge in organic vegetables production throughout the year.
Such a farming achievement comes under the project designed by SNV Netherlands Development Organization in collaboration Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) for vegetable self-sufficiency in six eastern dzongkhags.
A book called “Guidelines for Facilitation of Contractual Supply of RNR Products by Farmers’ Groups to Institutes” was launched by the SNV Netherlands Development Organization to stress on their success of the farmers’ groups under the vegetable programme as encouraging in Bhutan for reaching vegetable self- sufficiency.
Such initiation of semi-commercial summer and winter vegetable production program by MoAF is targeted to enhance cash income and improve the producing and marketing of vegetables, therefore, enhancing the livelihood of farmers.
The Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperation (DAMC) is facilitating producers with major buyers and linkages and also provides market information to build up sustainable long-term market relations.
The six eastern dzongkhags, Trashigang, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse, Samdrup Jongkhar and Pemagatshel is identified for mass production of winter vegetables.
The farmers’ groups are also provided with seeds on 25% cost-sharing and other inputs like sprinklers, stamp & bill book, etc. Further the groups are also trained in improved harvesting and packaging methods.
The groups also held business-to-business meeting calls with farmers meeting with Bhutanese and Indian traders and financial institutions. The auctioning of vegetables in Samdrup Jongkhar started last year due to such contacts.
The book states the sale of Nu 20.6 m worth of sales of RNR products from 1,517 households in 57 farmers’ group. Further, it shows that about 795 households in 57 farmers’ groups supplied about 7.15m worth of RNR products including potato in 2013 to 31 schools and institutions in Bhutan.
However the farmers have been encouraged to produce vegetables in small scale for their own consumption since the farmers cannot compete with the imported vegetables in terms of quality and price.
In the east most of the institutions have a pre contract with the local vegetables suppliers, who consistently supply local vegetables and up to now more than 57 farmers group and institutions clustered and signed agreement to purchase vegetables. So the farmers are motivated or educated to take-up commercial vegetables cultivation rather than practicing subsistence cultivation.
DAMC have started with the assessment of vegetable production from last year in various dzongkhag and found out that some Dzongkhags in the low-lying areas are able to produce vegetables for the winter season to meet the domestic needs.
The Market Access and Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP) in the six Eastern Dzongkhags are being implemented by many of the MoAF agencies have started in April 2011.
The Vegetable Value Chain Programme in the East is one of the programmes under MAGIP and implemented under coordination of DAMC, with SNV TA support and involvement of several other MoAF agencies including District Agricultural Offices.