Bhutan is on a mission to plant one million fruit trees
Inspired by His Majesty’s vision, one million fruit trees are expected to be planted in two and half months in Bhutan under A Million Fruit Tree Plantation Project.
Inspired by His Majesty’s vision, the De-suung National Service in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is undertaking A Million Fruit Tree Plantation Project in Bhutan. The project was inaugurated in all the 205 Gewogs in which the fruit trees would be planted on 15th March 2022.
About 1233 De-suups would be engaged in planting a million fruit trees across the country in a span of two and half months. The one million fruit seedlings would be less of those fruit trees already in abundant Bhutan and focused more on new varieties. For the first month from the inaugural date of March 15, the De-suups will be planting seedlings of almond, chestnuts, persimmon, pecan nut, kiwi, in temperate zones. In the subtropical regions, plantation of avocados, dragon fruit, pomegranate at large scale, papaya and some varieties of citrus will take place.
Orchard management course for Desuups
In preparation for the project, 233 Desuups were given a 5-day crash course on orchard management in Regional Agriculture Research Centres of Mongar, Tsirang, Sarpang and Thimphu. Their training included hands-on learning on how to dig the pits, how to plant, specific fruit plant requirements and basic introductory training on geocoding and data capturing. Depending on the size of the Gewog, at least one trainer would be deployed in each Gewog with their own team of five to six members.
The Agriculture Ministry in a collaborative effort from the Dzongkhag and Gewog Offices had compiled a report of the household and the specific seedling they would be handed based on the availability of the land on the farmer’s part and also ruling out the fruit currently grown by the family. In accordance with the record, the De-suup team would put up in the respective community and execute the project in the field - starting from transporting the seedling from the nearest road head to the household, digging the pit, planting the fruit seedling, geocoding the plants and then finally handing it over to the communities.
Once the seedlings were handed over to the communities, the aftercare responsibility would be decentralised. The geocoding of the fruit trees would allow remote monitoring from Thimphu and progress tracking and growth of the seedlings would be in place to guide the communities accordingly.
Desuups giving back to the communities
According to the De-suung National Service, while the main contribution from their end is manpower, the project is also a wonderful opportunity for the participating De-suups to contribute back to their communities. The office noted that during this pandemic, while there are many Desuups on duty, there are also many young De-suups in the urban areas who are unemployed.
Through this project, those involved would get a chance to reconnect to their roots and hopefully close the huge generation gap that is leading to the loss of value and tradition. As much as possible, the De-suups will be placed in the same locality as their hometown so that they get an opportunity to serve the community that they grew up in.
“Requesting our De-suups to take advantage of this opportunity while you are young and have the time and energy. You will not regret giving back to your community. We hope more De-suups would come forward to join this project. Similarly, we seek continued support from the farmers to take ownership and help the plants grow to bear the optimum fruits and we hope the youth in the communities would lend a helping hand in planting the fruit trees,” said Tashi Dhendup, De-suung
One million fruit seedlings will be distributed to about a hundred thousand houses with each household receiving an average of 6-7 seedlings. The plantation is expected to complete by the end of May this year.
With a combination of great care from the communities and the many specifications said to have been taken care of by the Agriculture Ministry while importing the seedlings to ensure that the survival rate is 100%, A Million Fruit Tree Plantation initiative could transit swiftly from a project for family consumption to making Bhutan a ‘fruitful’ (literally!) country within the next 5 years fostering food security as well as opening avenues for the commercial market.