The Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Dorji, said as of now he cannot say if the hazelnut project is a profitable project for the people in rural Bhutan, but he has found that the project that started four years ago helps to conserve the environment.
Lyonpo said the assessment of the project, in terms of its revenue earning potential is not clear, but “it is going to benefit the environment,” he said.
“But most evidently, in the coming days as the trees bear fruits and after commercialization, we might know how well it will help in deriving revenue,” the Agriculture Minister added.
He said the project was started with the good objective of benefiting the people in rural areas and to help conserve the environment.
Lyonpo said the project is running smoothly as planting is being done on schedule and the plant nurseries in Lingmithang and Ngatshang under Mongar are functional and the hazelnut saplings are being supplied to the people.
“It is one of the environmental-related projects, and the government, starting from the previous government’s time, has given it support. I have visited the project a couple of times too,” Lyonpo said.
He further stated that the ministry is fully supportive of the agriculture and forest related projects, be it FDI in country, as long as there are businessmen with the capital to start commercial farming. Lyonpo said this falls along the objective of making the nation a self-sufficient one. “MoAF will support, in terms of land and technology though we won’t be able to do much in terms of money but we might come out with some ideas in way to support it as well,” he added.
As of now, around 2mn trees have been planted and the project is spread in 11 dzongkhags, such as Lhuntse, Bumthang, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Samdrup Jongkhar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Wangduephodrang and Zhemgang. A total of 4, 049 households are taking part in the venture. The project employs about 500 workers.
The project aims to plant 10mn trees in 8 years, of which 2mn have already been planted so far.