Gardening the Bhutanese Way

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Celebrating Earth Day-Hear Mother Earth's message to all...



Wondering what the Earth Day or International Mother Earth Day is all about? Well, spare some time and get to hear what message our Mother Earth has in store for us. Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd to remind each of us that the earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance (source: Greening The Blue).


To begin with, our attempt in celebrating the big day need not be grand. Some very simple and small gestures of ours towards the earth can sum it all up. In line with it, get to know what small gestures we did to mark the important day

As an act of due reverence to the Mother Earth and to take a step closer to Bhutan's vision to Produce Zero Waste by 2030, a multiple stakeholder came to celebrate the International Mother Earth Day on 22nd April, 2018. The HOTEL SIX SENSES BHUTAN, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the Bondey Institute of Hospitality Management, the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD), Shari, and the villagers of the would-be eco-village, Damchena in unison observed the Earth Day. 


The day was observed with the Vision hinging on "Zero Tolerance to Plastic".  A deep sense of gratitude to the dynamic leaders for the gift of the constitutional mandate on environmental conservation as well as the unique developmental philosophy of Gross Nation Happiness, which acts as the guiding principle in Bhutan's pursuit to growth and development in all its sphere.

Bhutan has also pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. Its carbon negative status at the moment knit closely with around 72% of  its total area under forest cover  rides smoothly on the constitutional mandate of maintaining 60% of the total area under forest cover for all times to come. This coupled with its mission of going Fully Organic has tagged the small Himalayan kingdom with a uniqueness in its own sense despite it being a speck among giants. The lush green valleys; ridges and mountains adorned  with trees and shrubs of all kinds; and a pristine environment is all what it has in offer.
Nevertheless, the trend of globalization is setting in gradually. Waste and plastic litter is seen as a huge hazard to the pristine nature. If not acted wisely to nib the trouble at bud stage then trying to manage the situation at a later stage will not be worth it. If we not make efforts to manage waste today, tomorrow might be too late.

What marked the Big Day at Damchena village?

The day began with the birds chirping their soothing hymn amid the nearby woods as they gleefully bid farewell to the enveloping dusk.  Cattle in their sheds mooed as the bright sun rays peeped over the valley hilltop and comforted their furry cladding. As the rays descended further down the valley, everything swung into motion- children played in excitement; adults brewed tea and breakfast; a few vehicles roared over the uneven road, ferrying people and materials required for the big event.

People started assembling in the natural comfy provided by the lush green pasture. Banners for the big event hung from apple trees. The trees with its first flush of leaves and protruding buds seemed to have assumed its tedious work for the season after months of hibernation. Wooden tables stretched across to enable the display of various healthy food items: pine needle juice fortified with honey and lemon; wild mint flavored lemon juice, quinoa seasoned with fresh mint leaves and other ingredients; steamed asparagus; wild fern neatly glued by cheese, dried kale leaves, sliced and dried beet root, carrot, sweet potato, and  black and white sesame cake.

The villagers in particular were keen to try making various juices at home aftermath the event. They remarked, 'These plants have been growing over here for ages. We just didn't know how to make use of it'.

The event reeled in harmonious balance with nature: the entire celebration in the backdrop of the evergreen trees swinging to the tune of the gentle breeze; while the azure blue sky augmented the aesthetic essence in the firmament above; grannies and grandpas capped in grey hair plodded in while kids caroled at top velocity as if springs were attached to their heels;  cattle and horses grazing crazily over the freshly sprung pastures came in for the celebration; dogs tirelessly wagged their bushy tail in anticipation of the event, their eyes fixated on what was lying over the table; while hens raced in to be part of the gracious occasion- knowing that the event is crucial for their daily sustenance as well as for their future generations to come. And together, we celebrated the grand day, the International Mother Earth Day.

The guest from Six Senses Bhutan graced the occasion- his introduction on the event with emphasis on the vision of Zero Tolerance to Plastic was remarkable. The theme of 'Growing with Six Senses' implied very much to the children attending the program as well as the villagers.  Advocating on the proper management of plastic wastes to the children at a very young age is viewed as a tactful means of rooting up of problems associated with waste at infancy stage. This would inculcate  in the young minds a sense of awareness so that they cautiously deal with problems at the later stage of their lives.

The children of Shari ECCD was the epitome of the event. Their shrill and sharp voices on Plastic waste reduction and management echoed through the valley. Their messages were clear, "  Say No To Plastic; 3 Rs of Waste- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and Don't Throw Plastic in the River" said it all.

The rural folks could also grow with Six Senses. This is evident from the concept of 'Farm to Table', which Six Senses is adopting to help rural communities generate income and alleviate poverty. This is what exactly is happening at the Damchena Eco-Village.

The ministry of Agriculture and Forests and the Agriculture Research and Development Center, Yusipang in particular and the Six Senses Bhutan is in the process of molding the village- with more than 17 acres of the village farmland registered organic. Exploring organic means of growing fruits, vegetables and herbs, flowers and other horticultural products that would find the ultimate shelf at the Six Senses Bhutan is heart-thrilling.

Organic crops could not only fetch premium for the producers but the greatest contribution would be the utmost care and respect rendered to the mother Earth. This will ensure that we don't compromise the health of our soils and its capacity to nurture us for generations to come while working towards food and nutrition security. With technical and input support from the research center in close collaboration with the Six Senses Bhutan, we aspire to develop this model Eco-Village, which might find its replica in the years to come elsewhere.

In aligning with the Farm to Table concept, the team also prepared land and sowed the seeds of super foods like Quinoa and Chia along with herbs like fennel, lettuces, parsley, chocolate mint, etc.
The ministry would also like to applaud on the initiative and role-model Six Senses Bhutan is setting by way of bridging the wide gap existing between production and marketing. This will be a realistic approach to 'The farm/garden to table' concept.

Many a times, all the hard work the Bhutanese farmers endure to produce various cash crops  goes in vain. All the days hard toil on small, fragmented farmland with minimal feasibility of mechanization, and no assured market leaves the farmers deprived of motivation to proceed further. On top of that, safer, healthier  produces from the mountains stand no match with the chemical-laden imported produce in the market, as price dictates everything. This is the biggest disgrace to the hard working small scale farm holders.
However, with the produce being directly linked to the Six Senses Bhutan, this will act as the greatest incentive for the farmers to produce more. The way of growing high value, nutrition-laden super foods as dictated by ultimate market will also contribute immensely towards meeting the daily nutritional intake of the farming community itself.

Hopefully but gradually, the Bhutanese farming community will find a way of blending their traditional food habit with that of the nutritious super foods. This will also enhance nutrition security as Bhutanese diet at the moment is carbohydrate-rich and lacks diversity and other essential nutrients. The growth of high end consumers like Six Senses, stretched across the country as well as other similar hotels could boost the production of high value crops by acting as the ultimate sink of the farm produces.

All in all, let's eat healthy, live healthy and promote healthy way of living by saying 'No To Plastics' and enriching our gardens with super plants so that we have nutritious foods on the table. Together, we shall find a way of saying Plastics are our greatest enemies for it indiscriminately pollutes our soils, dwindling its capacity to produce to the optimum and sustain billions of lives on it. Let's all grow together, healthier, cleaner, greener and happier but without compromising the health of our mother Earth. Please help us spread our love and message for our Mother Earth.

Some images as the memento of the Earth Day, 2018.
Super-foods in display

Villagers of Damchena Village
Message on the earth Day from the children of Shari ECCD
Nursery Raising of Chia seeds

 Sowing of Quinoa Seeds















Children bidding Goodbye after the program

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How far has Bhutan Traveled in Pursuit of its Organic Mission?

In continuation to my earlier post on Bhutan's organic mission and the journey thus far (http://horticulturetg.blogspot.com/2018/04/bhutans-organic-mission-origin-and.html), I would like to share some insights into where Bhutan stands at the moment.



The Course of Bhutan’s OA Development

2004- Renewable Natural Resources-Research and Development Center, Yusipang  was declared as organic research centre.
2005-2007- The National Framework for Organic Farming in Bhutan (NFOFB) developed and launched.
2006-  National Organic Programme initiated informally.
10th FYP- Organic formally established as National Programme
2009- Technical Working Group for Organic Agriculture constituted.
2010-   ABSD – Initiative- Organic charter –  which promoted organic Asparagus production.
Role of NOP (National Organic Program)
Apart from various programmes initiated and implemented by NOP, most significant achievements have been:
1.Development of supportive framework documents, guidance material, and a comprehensive Masterplan for Organic Agriculture in Bhutan. ( National Framework for Organic Farming in Bhutan)
2. Introduction of a certification scheme in Bhutan as well as developing other standards.
3. Achieving over 55,400 acres under organic management
4. 2014: International Workshop hosted; resulted in the Thimphu Declaration.
5. 2015:  SAARC Regional Expert Consultation Meeting on 'Status & Future prospects of Organic Agriculture for Safe Food security for SAARC countries and resulted in Organic Agriculture-Final Recommendations for SAARC Nations.
6. 2016: An executive order issued to rename the RNR-RDC as Research & Development Centre for organic Agriculture (RDC-OA)
7. 2017: Inception of Model Organic Village at Langpa Nobgang, Haa.
8. May 2017: National Workshop on Roadmap for Organic Agriculture Policy in Bhutan in consultation with ICIMOD. This was viewed as an important step int the organic movement for it resulted in the Proceedings and way forward of the workshop as follows:
      vOrganic Agriculture to be promoted as a flagship programme under the 12th five-year plan.
  vNeed for an apex body/mechanism
  vBuild on existing frameworks: Selected products and regions
  vIncentivizing the private sector
  vIncentivize organic growers through:
MSP to bridge the requirements of premiums, especially for organic small holders in the country.
Creation and search for organic premium
Market mechanism for organic produce: exploring & creating both domestic as well as international market.
Assess to finance for organic groups.
Cold storage chains for organic produce.
Input support
Technical support
Promote value chain sector.
Incentivizing the local production of organic inputs for local producers(reduced transport cost)
Set up of Labs for required testing; research & development on biological pest and disease control mechanism.
Ecosystem service payments to organic farmers.
Integration of eco-equitable tourism including a focus on rural farm-stays, revival of local and traditional crops as well as traditional farming systems and experience.
So you think Bhutan is Going Fully organic by 2020?
Well, the answer would obviously be 'Not Sooner' in this short span of time. Bhutan has started the movement some years ago and it will take time. It may become fully organic some years in the future but not in 2020. At the moment, there are lots of works that needs to be done to materialize the idea of going fully organic. However, there are numerous glitters of hope and positive aspects of the move and hopefully in the near future, may Bhutan cut through some of the barriers and achieve its mission of Going Fully Organic.

Bhutan's Organic Mission: Origin and the Journey


From where did the statement originate?

Well, wondering how, when and why the much talked about statement of ''Bhutan's Mission of Going organic by 2020'' came into existence? 

The Former Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Y. Thinley in 2012 during the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development stated,
   "And as rural prosperity and urban well-being become a development theme, we are determined to become the first wholly organic food producing country by weaning our farmers and crops away from chemical dependency to ensure food security and sustainable agriculture. Bhutanese farmers have begun to plant the seeds of a new and sustainable society''.
PM’s remark at the closing session of the 2012 Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics as follows:
"And we are working towards becoming the first country in the world to be 100% organic".
That is how the popular statement originated and became widely talked about by the outsiders as well as in  the country.

Why Bhutan is ideal for the shift from conventional to organic agriculture?

    vThe principles of Organic Agriculture aligns well with Bhutan’s developmental philosophy of GNH.
vStrong Policy support fostered by the Seed Rule, Pesticide Act of Bhutan, etc.
vStrong political support from the highest authority  (letter from the Cabinet instructing the ministry of Agriculture and Forest to pursue the organic movement)
vSimilarity to traditional farming system
vFarming in most of the far-flung villages, marked by small land holding, tugged along the mountainous topography are organic  by default.
vPristine environment.
vCompatibility with good local farming knowledge.
vStrong national organic program and the institutionalization of the organic center.
vIncreasing international support for the move.
vReligious sentiments over the use of agro-chemicals and destruction of other forms of life.
vInstruction from the PM/present government  that we should promote OA as a Flagship Programme under the 12th Five Year Plan
vRegulated import and supply of plant protection chemicals through a single national agency


Small land holding and natural farming in practice

All the aforementioned factors make it conducive and place Bhutan at a comparative advantage for the shift to OA. Though there are hardships and challenges to the approach, Bhutan is tagged with a lot of factors that ideally place it at the apex of opportunity for organic agriculture than a lot of other nations in the world.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Letter from the Cabinet-Support to Bhutan's Organic Agriculture Movement.

This letter has reference to the 30th Lhengye Zhungtshog (Cabinet Meeting) held on March 25, 2014. The letter from the Cabinet to the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests (MoAF), dated 4th April, 2014 reads as follows:

The Government has directed the MoAF on the following:
1. The MoAF is to study and submit recommendations to the Lhengye Zhungtshog regarding the necessity of the development of organic agriculture by the government. The ministry is directed to use the expertise within the ministry and expertise from other relevant agencies if required to study on the impact of organic agriculture development. While studying, the MoAF is also directed to take into account the current status of organic products and alternatives for food security, fertilizers, input benefits, budget and timeline, etc.
2.  To study whether and how FDl projects negatively impact organic agriculture development.
3. The Government felt that there is a need to provide government support to the people especially in terms of marketing of organic products and also the need to develop proactive measures such as government buying the organic product and selling it. In this regard, the Government directed the MoAF to work on providing premium price for being organic and to work on the method of marketing as well as to work on how to provide government support on branding/Labeling and transportation cost for marketing the organic products.
4. The Government felt that if the country is self sufficient with the organic products and has adequate surplus for sale, the government can look into selling it to hotels, resorts and then gradually export to other countries. The government directed the MoAF to look into the possibility of locating organic market at a separate location, i.e., other side of Wangchu river, opposite to the current vegetable market
5. The MoAF to find out approximate budget, duration and benefit of going organic. 
6. To review Samdrup Jongkhar initiative and submit to the Lhengye Zhungtshog soon.
7. Bhutan Agriculture and food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) is directed to work on developing organic products certification system and be ready to provide certification services, if required.
8. To look into replacing/combining CoRRB with NOP as a cross-cutting agency.
9. Current human and other resource shortage to be addressed after the government considers the organic programme.
10. To look into harmonizing current Pesticide Act with the organic development policy, if enacted.
11. The reputation of the country will be uplifted with food security ensured by increasing domestic food production organically. The Government is of the view that any economic activity within the country can be undertaken without having to depend much on other countries. Therefore, if decided to consider the organic programme, the Government will announce to the public through media.

This is indicative of the strong political will of the government in promoting Organic Agriculture in Bhutan.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Bhutanese Obsession with Chili - How climate change will impact its cultivation by 2050?

'Ema Datshi'; Bhutanese chili cheese curry would top the list of favorite dish. The Bhutanese obsession with chili stems from the fact that it is deeply ingrained in our culture. Parents would assign their children the first sign of growth and bravery to being able to gallop down some chili curries. The dose and the interest to eat more follows sequentially with each round of applause from the parents or elders. Those who detest or fail to ingest chilies are looked down with being immature or mocked with words that can demoralize the child. 

Indeed, a heap of appreciation from parents and the twinkling glaze of satisfactory achievement in children's eye are the basic foundation for the high Bhutanese chili palatability. Ema datshi would be the only indisputable dish available on the table on any occasion. It also acts an appetizer; invoking more to be rolled down along it. That is why many claim that they can eat more when they are served ema datshi or Ezay or raw chillies along with food.

Many Bhutanese are holding contradictory views against the government's ban on chili import. Well, this is a very wise decision. Bhutanese people have been consuming chemical-loaded Indian chilies for a very long time. When Indian chilies gets rejected to the International market owing to the stringent tests and accordingly the products exceeding the maximum residue level, it had no problem entering the Bhutanese market. Why? Our country did not have the sophisticated equipment for testing. Not knowing that the toxic materials are being accumulated bit by bit every time we consume such products, we succumb to a chronic malfunction in our body when eventually our body cannot take the last trace of toxic material. And what do we do? We simply attribute the mishap solely to karmic residue. In fact, it is the toxic material residue, not karmic residue, that goes on accumulating in our system and disrupts it ultimately. Such toxic materials doesn't get eliminated easily as our excretion does.

Now, in lieu of the aforementioned facts, there is a huge demand being placed on the Bhutanese producers. The situation aftermath the import ban witnessed a huge outcry on the shortage as well as the affordability of chilies produced within. In fact, price per kilogram of chili shot to as high as 700-800 Ngultrum earlier this season. It is a big relief to the consumers as the price has stabilized now. 

During the peak production season, the price might drop drastically with glut in the market. However, consumption of negligible quantities of Indian chilies seems inevitable even during our own production season as many of the Bhutanese taste buds are after the fiery hot Indian chilies. I think there is a need for advocacy and awareness on the health hazards associated with it. 

Bhutanese people are so fond of eating imported chilies at the cost of their own health. The behavior is similar in traders alike consumers. Consumers are madly in search of pungent Indian chilies that the traders, a few lucky ones manage to conceal and dispense for their consumers at a higher rate. Many were found hidden elsewhere in black plastics. My sister once brought me chilies, around 250g. She got it from a vegetable seller, who managed to pull it from beneath her chair, the knot firmly tied that she was unable to open it for ascertaining the quality. The seller ensured that it is of top quality while she averted her head here and there in fear of inspectors. Perhaps in the due course of time, our taste buds might get acclimatized to the degree of pungency of our own Bhutanese chilies, and the longing for top pungent imported chilies ebb eventually.

The reason why the pinch for the import ban on cauliflower and bean wasn't felt as much as that of chilies might be on account of the fact that these are the vegetable commodities the people can do away with as long as there are other alternatives. However, chilies in any form; raw, dried, pickled or powdered form is a mandatory ingredient of the Bhutanese cuisine.

The MoAF is putting in tremendous efforts in bridging the gap after its conscious decision on the import ban. The mass production of chilies started in certain belts of the country. Some individual farmers converted their entire potato farmland to chili production plot after the ban. Every individual, who owned a piece of land for gardening, consciously expanded the acreage for chili production. The ministry has imported cold tolerant varieties from abroad, which are under testing at various field stations.

The assessment and planning workshop for winter chili production has been completed. Scheduled plan for chili nursery establishment is underway with the nurseries of hybrid seeds been raised in the first week of August. This will continue on a staggered basis and the warmers belts of the country might see their lands covered by chili plants this winter, provided the arid wintry conditions find other means of irrigation.

Nevertheless, this is just a short-term measure. Bhutan is no exception to the brunt of climate change. The carbon negative status of this speck in the ocean of other nations is not going to hold us from bearing the consequences. Global warming has taken its toll; we already have experienced glacial lake outbursts and floods. This change in the trend of global climate is going to impact food production to a large extent. A recent study by a team of officials from the MoAF and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on the crop climatic suitability is clearly indicative of the change. Impacts of climate change on climatic suitability of priority commodities like Potato, Quinoa, Kiwi, Chilli, Tomato, & Cardamom were carried out. The link to the entire report is available at  http://hdl.handle.net/10568/83460

Chili Current Climatic Suitability & Future Projections (2050)
In addition to the already existing challenges to chili production, Bhutan is going to witness a shift in the chili climatic suitability. The warmer (Southern) belts are expected to experience loss in suitable areas, probably due to net increase in the global temperatures. On the contrary, the cooler belts in the North will be able to grow crops that didn't grow in the past. While the areas that observe loss in suitable areas will have to search for other alternatives or resort to the cultivation of heat tolerant ones; people in the North might have to keep on exploring the climatic suitability of new crops.
A slight discrepancies might be there in the map for we used the FAO parameters with minimal changes form our side and climate data from Worldclim for the analysis since we don't have our own. However, I can see a good correlation in the current suitable areas under cultivation.
Current Chili Climatic Suitability map

FAO parameters used for the analysis.

Chili climatic suitability: current; future & the change using rcp 4.5
Chili climatic suitability: current; future & the change using rcp 8.5.
Chili Suitability map in 1994-1995, according to an information from Integrated Horticulture Development Project (the first map) against that of 2016 (2nd map) and the change/gain in suitable areas (the last map)




















Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Tale of Life (Part-II)

In continuation to My Tale of Life (Part-I)

She now realized why her mother always insisted her on going somewhere far from home. She could vividly remember her saying, “Actually, I feel so much relieved and happy to have you around with me, but you will find peace elsewhere than here”. Though reluctant at first, she relented eventually. Her heart murmured, “Better be slavery at others' door than being in a hell like this”. But what about her mother who has to be in the hell her entire life? She deeply empathizes and sympathizes with her and she reassured herself that she is going to change everything sooner.

For the first time in ages, Namgangmo felt a little bit of the heaviness drifting from her head and her tired eyes brightened. It was a new lease of life to her with her relatives. She would babysit, clean the house, wash clothes; and in the due course of time, she learnt how to cook meals. She could give some rest to her ears. She was careful not to let them to find any lapse in her doings.

In addition, they would bear her educational expenses. On the contrary, her grandmother would pile stakes of money in a box and lock it up. She would collect the money given to her by her sons and the tourist guests they often bring home; from the sale of her locally brewed wine, ‘Ara’; and of course from the sale of butter and cheese; and she would subsequently add it to the already existing pile to make it a bigger one or to make another one.

Forget about spending a single penny on the girl who sacrificed her holidays herding cattle, she would be deprived of the very right to eat the butter and cheese. It was even more pathetic to see that her mother had to purchase butter and cheese from others while her grandmother sold the same. It was astounding as to how a mother could be so cruel to her daughter and granddaughter but it was a fact.

Her mother gave birth to the second girl when Namgangmo was two years old and she was the one to run to the kitchen to fetch the cutter to have the umbilical cord cut. It was shameless of the father who worked as a manager at a nearby farm, who had her sister traded for worth of a pack of rice and a tin of oil and disappeared. Only her mother was left to face the cruelty and the reality of life.

Since then, the number of slaves at the mercy of grandmother’s door increased from one to two. Slaves get paid in cash for their service but they got paid with cartloads of brutality and humiliation.

Her grandmother hated the two sisters being together. “These two bastards would sit together always; can’t you be without each other?” They would exchange a glance of dismay, hated being called so. “Always sticking together, talking unnecessary things, eating like a pig but what is the output?” Their eyes would be welled with tears and they would avert their heads from the monster in front, blinking.

“You…coal-hearted girls, from where do you think all that you push down your mouth come from? Have you ever seen them falling from the sky? Did you know that your fathers didn’t feed you even a single bowl of rice? You are eating from my hand, staying at my house, what did you have from your useless fathers?”

A slightest act of rebel would put her grandmother in the deepest mood of anguish. Once she lost her control and said abruptly, “You bitch drove my father away”.

“What did this bastard utter from her mouth? Are you trying to spit on the face that fed you? I can’t tolerate such things at all. Get out of my house right now! Go and live with your father”, saying this, she dragged her out of the house. She could have fled to somewhere far but it was already dark. On this account, she took shelter in the cattle shed. As she laid there on the dry pine leaves scratching one of the calves on her neck, she murmured her pain, “I am nothing different from you. You are even luckier as my grandmother loves you more than me”.

A third man came along her mother’s life and yet added another member to the pool of tragedy. No sooner was he driven back. Her poor mother didn’t have any say in all those acts. People took advantage of her innocence, kindness and submissiveness. It was only when the last child and the only boy brought back their father several years later that her mother found some relieve and solace to her mind.
But the chaos in the house didn’t come to a cease. Her grandmother’s daily humiliation and orders from dawn till dusk had led to nothing more than an argument and soon they became the worst enemy. Indeed, she was an implacable enemy. Her grandmother’s implacability rather astounded and unnerved her. She would rarely be at home but even for a short while when she did stay, she was sick of the emotional turbulence in the family. She would wonder how her mother is bearing all those.

One thing that makes her emotional and upset as well was the frequency of the forms that she had to fill up in schools, which always had father’s name and occupation. She had seen none with mother’s till now. That made her to approach her teacher one day and enquire, “Sir, can I write mother’s name in place of fathers?” When the response was not what she expected, she raised her voice, “Sir, but that’s insane to write one when I don’t have and don’t belong to him”. “Whatever, write his name”, and the teacher would zip her mouth.

But all those miserable scenes had not discouraged Namgangmo. Instead, she drew courage and strength from it. She felt the need to study hard, the need to be someone great enough to change the situation and the need to take her mother out of the whirlpool of turmoil. She realized the potentiality to do so only if she excelled in her studies. That was the only motivation behind her hard work.

Accordingly, she came to the proper notice of the teachers when she was selected to go to Japan on a month long cultural exchange program. It was when she was in the fifth standard that she was selected through an interview. The following winter vacation, she got a call from the VAST, the Voluntary Artist Studio Thimphu, to attend a week long art workshop and to collect the prize for the painting that she has sent earlier.

Apart from her studies, she took an active part in extra-curricular activities. Not only does it ease her painful memories but every activity taught her something new. She was always ready to learn though not always liked being told. Singing and dancing was one of her passion but she limits this to only her national and traditional ones.

 Besides, she played games and sports. Though not good at it, she acknowledged it as it soothed her physically as well as mentally. Often, she would be on the stage, delivering an extempore speech, Elocution, inter-regional quiz or inter-dzongkhag debate competition, etc. She never regretted for being a part of everything. Consequently, she was given due recognition and she was awarded the Best Female Student twice which added further motivation to her act of will.

The little pocket money that she brought from home would she wrap in a piece of cloth. Along with the money earned from some sort of competition or dancing for a movie, she shall reach it back to her mother or buy her something. Nothing makes her happy than to see her mother in a blissful mood.
She would console her mother, “Ama, don’t be depressed because I am there for you. Once I complete my studies, I will take the sole responsibility of ensuring you all a happy life. I mean it and am I not meant for that?” the only response would be a humble smile accompanied by a simple nod. Despite her mother’s pretext, she knew how much her heart wept for freedom and happiness.

And now, she is dwelling in the other part of the world, millions of miles away from her home. Though out of sight, her mother wasn’t out of her mind. Neither has she lost the focus in her life.  His Majesty the fifth king has emphasized during the Royal Audience, “Good is not good enough, you should excel” and a briefing at the Department of Adult and Higher Education outlined, “Your first priority should be your health and then your studies. If you neglect the former, you can’t excel in the latter”.
 Every time, she reminds herself of these words, a flash of new energy would splash through her mind and thrill her heart to motion. With God as the sole guardian and trustee of her soul, she is determined to move forward in pursuit of happiness for her mother, her family and her small nation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Evaluation of Bio-fertilizers on Cauliflower Productivity



1. Background.

The center resorted to undertake this research trial as such initiatives are felt mandatory if we are to achieve our nation's steadfast mission of going organic by the year 2020. It is also geared towards finding means of replacing our current trend of agricultural system, wherein we are using excessive chemical fertilizers in nourishing our plants while we are least bothered about the health of our soils. While many dwelling in the farming  community have minimal or no knowledge on the beneficial soil microbes, it is also to be emphasized that farmers need to be educated on this aspect of maintaining soil health and the crucial role such microbes can play in agriculture. The need to stress on the maintenance of soil health which is a gateway to sustainable farming is also to be prioritized.

Seedlings in the nursery

2. Objectives:

Ø  To address the increasing problems associated with the use of synthetic agro-chemicals in agriculture through the use of bio-fertilizers.
Ø  To find means of practicing sustainable agriculture by providing an ecological environment where all the microbial community could live in harmony wherein they can balance each other in their quest for food and space.

3. Materials & Methodology

The RCBD experimental design was used to carry out the trial. A total of 7 treatments including control and 3 replications were designed. The trial encompassed a total area of 105 sq. m. with 21 plots of 5 sq. m. each. The seedlings were spaced at 30*45 cm, amounting to a total plant strength of 693.

Transplanting Stage
The 7 treatments namely; FYM, vermi-compost, vermi-wash, liquid manure form biodigester tank, compost tea, heap compost and control were used. 
Treatments 1-3: FYM; Vermi-compost;Vermi-wash.

Treatments 4-7: Liquid manure; Compost tea; Heap compost & Control
The solid bio-fertilizers were applied around the root zone  while the liquid formulations were poured around the root zone of the crop on fortnightly interval except for FYM which was stopped after its second application. In total, there were 6 applications in the entire crop period.
Treatment application

4.  Result & Discussion

For yield analysis against different treatments, 10 plants per plot were randomly selected and the curd weight recorded. The average curd weight are as depicted in table 1. 

Table 1: : Average curd weight(g) of 10 randomly selected plants/plot 
Sl. No.
Treatment plots
Average curd weight(g)
1.
R1T1
300
2.
R1T2
300
3.
R1T3
400
4.
R1T3
273
5.
R1T4
385
6.
R1t5
405
7.
R1T6
413
8.
R1T7
547
9.
R2T1
471
10.
R2T2
411
11.
R2T3
448
12.
R2T4
780
13.
R2T5
523
14.
R2T6
372
15.
R2T7
332
16.
R3T1
359
17.
R3T2
517
18.
R3T4
363
19.
R3T5
455
20.
R3T6
379
21.
R3T7
289

From the data, the average curd weight of the plots with same treatment were derived, & the yield per acre and the comparative yield advantage of the other treatments over the control plot were also worked out accordingly as illustrated in table 2.

Table 2: Comparison of yield  between treatments
Sl. No.
Treatments
Avg. yield/curd(g)
Yield/acre of individual treatments(MT)

Comparative yield advantage of other treatments over control plots

1.
FYM
393
10.38
0.93MT(930kg)
2.
Vermi-compost
376.7
9.94
0.49MT(490kgs)
3.
Vermi-wash
442.7
11.69
2.24MT(2240kgs)
4.
Liquid manure
361.3
9.54
0.09MT(90kgs)
5.
Compost tea
540
14.26
4.81MT(4810kgs)
6.
Heap compost
435.7
11.50
2.05MT(2050kgs)
7.
Control
358
9.45

Cauliflower curds from first replication

Curds from second replication

Curds from third replication

4. Conclusion

Though the data didn't show much statistical significance between the treatments, it does have some difference in the physical weight of the curds. Accordingly, the comparative yield advantage of the different treatments over control can be seen.