Local vegetables enhance rural income in East Bhutan
Stakeholders from the six eastern dzongkhags of Lhuntse, Mongar, Trashigang, Tashiyangtse, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar came together to discuss the progress and issues of the Vegetable Value Chain Programme, East (VVCP-E) initiated under MAGIP project by the Regional Agriculture Marketing & Cooperatives Office (RAMCO) and SNV Bhutan, in collaboration with the district agriculture sectors, local governments and RNR-RDC Wengkhar.
The review workshops were conducted in each district separately from 11th to 25th May 2015. The participants included officials and representatives from dzongkhag agriculture sector, district education sector, RDC Wengkhar, local governments, extension offices, FCBL, MAGIP project coordination unit, SNV Bhutan, Principals from schools, and group chairperson/ coordinators,
This vegetable value chain programme started from mid 2011 as an off-season vegetable production & marketing programme with the following objectives:
Assist production of larger volumes of vegetables required for both internal & external markets.
Explore both internal and external market opportunities.
Identify, facilitate and link both local and Indian traders with farmers groups.
Create an enabling environment for vegetable marketing by exploring possible alternate markets through the process of trial marketing, auctioning etc.
Establish sustainable markets for farmers groups (Institutional linkage)
This programme started with 69 farmer groups from 20 sub-districts (blocks) organized into 29 clusters, which now stands at 146 groups from 44 blocks. Over 9,300 people from 1874 households are engaged in this business today, with an average 40% of all household income contributed by sale of vegetables. Before this initiative, the contribution of income from sale of vegetable ranged between 0 – 5% of the total household income. From the total production of vegetables, 63% is sold for income, 19% consumed at home and 18% damaged/ fed to domestic livestock.
In 2014, the groups sold 1935.63 MT of vegetables earning a gross income of Nu 38.81 million (over USD 616,000).
The review workshop was conducted to highlight the progress and achievements of the past year, obtain views from core stakeholders such as group coordinators, district agriculture officials, extension officials, local government officials and schools, discuss key issues and challenges, understand the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder involved in the program and discuss strategies to further continue & strengthen the programme.