Farmers embrace nutrient-rich gardens

More than 4,500 farmers have transformed their kitchen gardens into nutrient-rich spaces in Chukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse, and Sarpang. This is one of the outcomes of the Food Security and Agriculture Productivity Project, which was carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture in 2022. This was shared during a two-day experience-sharing workshop between the Community Resource Persons and relevant stakeholders that concluded today in Paro.

With nutrient-rich spaces, farmers grow more nutritious veggies such as broccoli, carrots, and spinach.

It is in line with Bhutan’s Food and Nutrition Security Policy 2023 that the project started the Nutrition Behavior Change Communication strategy which emphasised enhancing good eating habits at the local level.

This was done through 160 volunteer Community Resource Persons who established connections with locals in their areas to enhance the production and consumption of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables for better health. To do so, they were trained in various themes such as agriculture and dietary diversity.

The workshop is to take stock of all the experiences of the initiative so that its momentum is not lost.

“The other one is to hand over this BCC initiative to the government especially to the Department of Agriculture as the project is nearing its end, which is in December 2024. We want to ensure that this initiative is continued and if possible are supported by the government and see further collaboration with other ministries and agencies like health and education where we have similar programmes,” said Sangay Wangdi, Nutrition Education Coordinator, FAO.

With the collaboration with the FAO coming to an end, the initiative will now be continued by the Department of Agriculture.

“The initiative is now being handed over to us but we have been working closely with the FAO. To keep the pace of the initiative alive, we are also adopting some measures to encourage the Community Resource Persons by giving priority to them when new equipment, seeds and seedlings become available. Moreover, we will also prioritise them when trainings are announced. We aim to make them resourceful so that they can teach the others in the communities,” said Kinley Namgay, a senior district agriculture officer, at Sarpang.

“We are encouraging fellow farmers to grow nutritious vegetables not just for commercial purposes but also for self-consumption. Almost everybody in my village has a kitchen garden prioritising the cultivation of nutritious foods, fruits and vegetables,” said Karma Tamang, community resource person, Samphelling Gewog, Sarpang.

“In my village, there are many kitchen gardens but many were not cultivated during summer. So, I took the initiative to grow vegetables in the poly house that we received from the government. As I grew vegetables of different varieties throughout the year, I was able to encourage others to grow vegetables,” said Pema Lethro, also a community resource person, Dekiling Gewog, Sarpang.

The workshop identified some of the challenges faced in implementing the initiative and came up with solutions to promote better collaboration among stakeholders.

Namgay Wangchuk, Paro

Edited by Kipchu

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