17 June 2014: ThePresident of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), His Excellency Mr. Akihiko Tanaka and Hon’ble Secretary, Dasho Tenzin Dhendup, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) jointly inaugurated a Museum in Memory of Late Dasho Keiji Nishioka at the Agriculture Machinery Centre in Bondey, Paro.
Known as Dasho Nishioka throughout the country, Late Dasho Keiji Nishioka was sent to Bhutan by the Japanese Government as an agriculture expert in 1964. Ever since, he started working in Bondey Agriculture Farm, he brought about major developments in farming that has changed the livelihood of Bhutanese farmers. Being visionary and farsighted, Dasho not only imparted new knowledge and skills in farming, but also initiated the establishment of three agriculture centers such as Agriculture Machinery Centre, National Seed Centre and National Post Harvest Centre to provide required services throughout the country. Dasho continued to stay in Bhutan after his two-year assignment period and worked in the country for 28 years until 1992.
In 1980, His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo awarded the red-scarf and conferred the title of Dasho to him in recognition of his selfless and dedicated services to the people of Bhutan in the field of agriculture development. His Majesty also blessed Dasho Nishioka with Druk Thuksey medal in 1990. Dasho Nishioka is the only foreigner to receive the title of Dasho
Dasho Tenzin Dhendup, Hon’ble Secretary, MoAF extended warm welcome to His Excellency and accompanying delegates on behalf of the Ministry. He highlighted that the relationship between Bhutan and Japan continued to grow and strengthen ever since the late Dasho Keiji Nishioka came to Bhutan in 1964.
While addressing the gathering, he shared that food self-sufficiency and farm mechanization in Bhutan are accorded high priority by the Royal Government of Bhutan. Towards this, the Government and the people of Japan have been providing continued grant assistance and farm machines through the KR-II Grant since 1984. The farm machineries such as power tillers, tractors, threshers, harvesters, rice transplanting machines, sprayers, water pumps etc. received under this grant are used for agricultural and farming purposes and have immensely benefited the farming communities. The RGoB has received 23 KR II grants so far and a total of 2795 units of power tillers. During the last plan period (10th Plan) a total of 458 power tillers have been received and 13,099 acres has been brought under mechanization. The labour saved over traditional practices is six per acre. The grant impact has been a 15% increase in the rice productivity over traditional farming and 48.8% reduction of cost of production of rice through mechanization.
Dasho also added that the Ministry is now setting-up farm machinery hiring service centres in all the Dzongkhags not only to realize the government’s policy of poverty alleviation and food-self sufficiency but also to mitigate rural-urban migration, provide youth employment and to overcome the labour shortages in the farming community. The centres will provide hiring services of power tillers, tractors, threshers, harvesters, rice transplanting machines, water pumps and rice/wheat processing machines.
Expressing the gratitude to His Excellency Mr. Akioiko Tanaka, a 73 year old farmer Gup Drep Dorji Gyeltshen from Luni Gewog (former local leader) said, “We the farmers of Bhutan are very much thankful to Dasho Keiji Nishioka and his diligent efforts in the agricultural development in Bhutan and Bhutanese people are very fortunate enough to be selected for grant assistance and support from the government and people of Japan. Among many, the most important and helpful grants that we received were the farm machinery that helped us in reducing drudgery while carrying out farming activities” He also added that “the efforts that Dasho Nishioka had kindly put into the agriculture development in Bhutan would not have been possible without the support of the government and people of Japan”.
His Excellency and other officials also visited National Seed Centre and National Post Harvest and Processing Centre in Paro.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by Mr. Yushiro Tojo, Chief Secretary, Office of the President, JICA, Mr. Katsuo Matsumoto, Deputy Director General, South Asia Department, JICA, Ms. Yumiko Asakuma, Chief Representative, JICA, Mr. Hedeki Taniguchi, Second Secretary, Embassy of Japan in New Delhi, India, Lam Naten, community leaders and Dzongkhag officials of Paro Dzongkhag and senior officials from MoAF.
–Reported and photo by Penjor, ICS
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