20 August 2015, Haa:
The Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector, Haa organised a Farmers’ Exchange visit program where a total of 46 farmers from Bjee, Katsho, Eusu and Samar Gewogs participated in the exchange visit program along with the agriculture staff. The idea for a farmers’ exchange visit came about after a joint visit of the Gewog activities by DAO and field staffs during May 2015. During the Gewog visit, it was observed that some of the greenhouses were properly maintained while few required improvement and further efforts by the farmers. The farmers’ exchange visit was thus expected to help farmers’ learn from each other through observation and interaction. The technical Expert of HOFSI also participated in the farmers’ exchange program. The main objective of the program was to share experience and knowledge on greenhouse farming and help farmers improve their experiences. The program is funded by the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Greenhouse farming was initially promoted by the Department of Agriculture and later the program was expanded by Haa Organic Farming Support Initiative (HOFSI) from 2014. A total of 40 greenhouses were installed in 2014 and another 23 in 2015. The project aims at installing 100 greenhouses in the four Gewogs of Bjee, Katsho, Eusu and Samar. The HOFSI is a project financially supported by Dr. Rudolf Knunz from Austria with the farmers contributing 40% of the total cost. The project supports green house with drip irrigation and electric fencing for the farmers, including close technical support. The project was launched in August 2013 with the main goal to improve the livelihood of Haa farming households. The project will terminate by July 2018. The project will also cover its benefit to Gakiling and Sangbaykha Gewogs towards the later part of the project term.
Greenhouse farming in Haa is geared towards organic production with tomato, chilli and cucumber as the potential green house crops. Seedling production for chilli, onion, Cole crops and asparagus are also managed in the green house. The green houses have greatly contributed to enhance household nutrition and cash income.
The exchange visit program was well received by the farmer participants and HOFSI as a cost effective tool to learn from progressive and effectual farmers. Two best greenhouses were visited in each of the four Gewogs and the program was wrapped up with a plenary session. The plenary session captured all the positive and shortcomings of the greenhouses which became a lesson to all the participants for efficient green house farming. The session also discussed various agricultural issues including vegetable seeds quality and availability, marketing constraints, pests and disease control challenges in organic farming among others. In order to expand greenhouse farming, the participants were assured marketing support though farmers’ group formation, assurance of timely seeds, opening up of farm shops by the Government, farmers to school-linking program and subsidy support in horticulture inputs for commercial agriculture by Horticulture Division.
Compiled and submitted by: Karchung, Sr.DAO, Haa
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