Upscaling Crop Diversification – A case of project initiative being undertaken in Eastern Bhutan

May 22nd, 2020

Crop biodiversity is crucial to ensure household food and nutritional security. Crop diversification refers to enriching the existing crop diversity with potential indigenous and exotic crop germplasm. In this regard, Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme (CARLEP)-IFAD through Agriculture Research and Development Centre, Wengkhar, Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector and other implementing agencies have been making concerted effort to enhance crop diversity in the eastern region through upscaling of potential cereals, vegetables and fruit crops.

The project has been upscaling existing crops or promising crop germplasm being developed with support from past area development projects and programmes in the region. However, the implementation is done as per the project framework with clear distinction between pro-poor and commercial intervention.

Some of the important cereal crops being promoted under this project includes Quinoa, Upland paddy, spring paddy, spring maize, minor cereals (such as mustard, millets and wheats), oil seeds (ground nut) and grain legumes (such as soya beans, rajma beans and lentils) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Cereal Crop diversity in the region

Similarly, some of the vegetable crops being promoted through integrated farming approach under the project include chilli, tomato, onion, egg plant, garlic, garden peas, mustard green, cabbage, radish, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, common beans, pumpkin, squash, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, mushroom and lady’s finger (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Horticultural crop diversity, value addition and marketing

In addition, the project also promotes fruit crops through establishment of an integrated farm (or multi-tyre cropping system). Some of the important fruit crops being promoted under the project includes Asian pear, Non-astringent pear, peach, plum, apricot, soft shell walnut, avocado, mango, litchi, dragon fruit, passion fruit, watermelon, among others. Besides, with fund support from CARLEP-IFAD with support from Agriculture Research and Development Centre, Wengkhar and Integrated Food Processing Plant (IFPP) based in Lingmethang also promotes processing and value addition of local produce such as pumpkin, cassava, maize and buckwheat (Figure 2).

In nutshell, the wholesome project approach, guided by dynamic project management coupled with commitment and hard work of the implementing agencies, has helped our smallholder farmers cope with ongoing health crisis which has affected the global food system.

Submitted by: Sonam Gyeltshen[1], Passang Wangmo[2] and [3] Lhap Dorji

[1] Deputy Chief Horticulture Officer/ Focal Officer to CARLEP, ARDC Wengkhar

[2] Agriculture Officer/ Head, Field Crops Programme, ARDC Wengkhar

[3] Programme Director, ARDC Wengkhar

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