According to a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on 14th of January in Thimphu between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), College of Natural Resources (CNR) and Hirosaki University, Japan to implement a project aimed at capacity building and introduction of innovative technologies to improve apple production, productivity and processing in the country.
The Director General of Department of Agriculture Nim Dorji, said that apple is one of the major cash crop in Bhutan and that it provides an excellent opportunity to improve quality and add value to it. “The project could be game changing and will help enhance income of Bhutanese farmers.” he said.
Dr. Sonam Tashi, CNR’s Dean of Academic Affairs, who signed MoU on behalf of CNR, while conveying the regret of Director General for not being able to make it to the ceremony said he looked forward for a fruitful project. He said “Apple is a strategic crop in Bhutan and has been so for last several years.”
A two-year project which begins from March this year which is proposed to be implemented in Thimphu, Lobeysa, Haa and Paro will be implemented by Hirosaki University via Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in collaboration with CNR and MoAF.
As per the project paper, the project will help develop manual and high quality commercial apple nurseries at RDC, Yusipang in addition to making Bhutanese agricultural supervisors and researchers able to guide high quality apple production in the project area. Model orchards will be established in the project area where Japanese technologies will be demonstrated.
The project will be training agriculture supervisors and researchers on improved techniques such as nurseries production, pruning and fruit thinning.
Also, techniques on safe production of processed fruits such as cider and freeze-dry will be taught to the target group who in turn will teach core farmers and is intended to be further taught to general farmers.
Agricultural supervisors and researchers will visit the processing company in Hirosaki city to learn product development and hygiene management.
There the Japanese specialist will also provide skills and techniques to them on pruning and thinning at Hirosaki University and orchards in either Hirosaki or University’s Fujisaki farm.
Some additional activities outlined in the project paper also includes introducing machines for making cider, freeze-dry and Jam at CNRand developing manual on trial processing and apple product development with under mentor of specialist from Japan.
The MoU signing was witnessed by Deputy Director General, JICA Tohoku and Chief and officials from Gross National Happiness Commission together with officials from several agencies of MoAF.