KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu
From fashion to entertainment, Bhutan always had a penchant for Korean culture. However, a new wave in the form of inculcating Korean methods of farming and agriculture is finding its way into the country.
During the recent 6th AFACI (Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative) general assembly on 29-31 August held in Bhutan, one significant presentation was on the KoRAA-Bhutan projects.
Some Bhutanese were trained by National Institute of Agriculture Science, Rural Development Administration (RDA), South Korea under the AFACI program.
The trained personal now plans to bring Korean agriculture products and farming techniques to Bhutan.
One such individual is Choeki Wangchuk who went for 10 months training on organic insect pest and disease management who says Bhutan should focus on harvesting domestic ginseng.
In Bhutan such medicinal supplements can be found in the wild but are not domesticated and produced in mass scale like it is done in South Korea.
Soya bean sprouts and its machine operation is another field that Choeki Wangchuk specialised on. He plans to bring the machine to Bhutan from South Korea and distribute it to the farmers for mass production of soya bean sprouts.
He opines that tofu manufacturing should also be done to diversify the Bhutanese food basket.
“Introduction and preparation of bio fertilizer using wood, bark and leaves should be enhancedand I am intending on introducing such innovative methods in the coming years,” Choeki said.
Isolation and identification of pathogens or diseases that affect the crop is another training he mastered, and he wants to collaborate with the National Plant Protection Centre and put his training into practice.
Director General of AFACI, Dr. Taek-Ryoun Kwon said Bhutanese agronomist under the AFACI program in South Korea did well. “It taught the Bhutanese participants on how to operate the machines and facilities that are helpful in agri-farming.”
He added that research programs for rice production in the hilly and harsh climate of Bhutan was conducted under AFACI so that farmers in the country can have better yield and productivity of high-altitude rice varieties.
Dr. Taek-Ryoun Kwon exerted that since South Korea and Bhutan is located in the similar geographical environment, there is similar agriculture environment and agriculture crop production.
“When we bring Korean experience and expertise to Bhutan, we are hopeful that it might help the Bhutanese farmers,” Kwon said, adding that he is hopeful that various collaboration and trainings can be conducted in the future between the two countries.
However, he added that there are gaps between the two countries in terms of infrastructure and methodology in agriculture. To address this, the specialist shared appropriate and suitable technology to be adopted in Bhutan.
“Bhutanese agri researchers should join hands to achieve the common goals and challenges that Asian countries face in the field of agriculture,” said Dr.Taek.
The Chief of Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Karma Tshering said there has been yearly support of around 40,000 to 50,000 USD as grant from AFACI, mainly from the South Korean government.
“We always have to explore the global scenario of agriculture and there is no harm in looking for such good opportunities and emulating South Korea as an example,” Karma said.
He added that we should conduct a thorough assessment and market research when we bring in such produce and technologies into the country.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Forest Minister Yeshey Penjor said AFACI projects have benefitted the research centres and farming communities in the country through knowledge sharing and technology transfer.
“Bhutan is looking forward to all possible opportunities to work closely with South Korea and other member countries in agriculture production and value chain front,” Lyonpo said.