In the quest towards making our country hundred percent agrarian and fulfillment of our mission of self-reliance, the role of horticulture is apparent. The art of growing vegetable and fruits in addition to agricultural produce have been incorporated in the minds of our farmers and despite into conventional practice we have been enjoying bounty harvest and fruition. But those were times when our population was less and our agricultural produce adequate. Suppose a plot of land was cultivated with turnip, it was able to suffice for a year virtually. The vegetables and their leaves, namely spinach, leaves of turnips were sun dried and stored for the cold unproductive winters. In fact our farm produce were exported to Tibet and some parts of India as well. But truth be told, now owing to increase in population and rapid urbanization things have changed .with some of our fertile and arable land already occupied for town and massive developmental activities we are at risk. Moreover the modern malady of rural urban migration pose another threat towards making our self-reliance dreams come true.
Its good to know that we are emphasizing not only in becoming agrarian nation but as well organic. Bhutan is doing pretty well in production of horticultural produces namely oranges, cardamom, apples, and vegetables like potato chilies etc. Hitherto these commodities have generated lots of income to the farmer and nation as whole. However considering our conducive climatic zones, the production is far cry lesser. May be because our emphasis is way limited on certain cash crops like potatoes and oranges. Fruits like pear, peach, plums are not grown on large scale. Unlike other cash crops these produces do not have proper market for income generation, meanwhile depriving their interest in its production. Perhaps our government should focus on providing platform for the farmers like making peach and plum based confectionery, wine factory etc. so as to boost their enthusiasm in its production. Similarly effort should be given in encouraging our farmers to grow other prominent fruits stuffs like mango, papaya, water melon etc.
The importance of horticulture in Bhutan is still viewed less than it is supposed to be. Our focus is solely on agricultural crops like rice, other cereals and very limited on horticultural crops. As well the exploration of myriad wild, forest products like ferns, mushroom, orchids are lacking. Given our farmers having profound knowledge on diverse forest products, it is apparent that this can be wisely assimilated in domestication and production at home. A good example can be Sikkim, they have successfully spearheaded the large scale production of orchids and various other forest products. If implemented, we will also have a major breakthrough in the fields of agriculture and forestry combined. Likewise cultivation of fungi such as oyster, button etc should be taken into consideration. Role of forestry is equally important as agriculture and horticulture aspects, in fact these things should pace hand in hand forward.
When it comes to the farming technique and methodology, virtually we are still following conventional ideas. Although power tiller and some other machines are being used but by and large farmers are not aware of the latest scientific approach. Starting from the way we sow seed and till the harvest time, the scientific knowledge plays a crucial role. Its bitter truth that our farmers while harvesting, are way careless, inflicting damages upon fruits and trees, careless transport and lack of proper post-harvest management knowledge, altogether pose a threat in our market scenario.
Some serious threats to crops are wild animals and the various crop diseases. The latter if not acted firmly from early stage, can bring a catastrophic loss altogether. Infestation can be curbed primarily through use of chemicals, but it’s not in line with our mission for organic approach, so we should be by now fully aware of bio-pesticide and make do of bio agent readily available. One elite solution would be to grow disease resistant crops, help to keep every threat at bay. Even the wild animals bring a considerable loss to the farmer every year, Government should assist our farmers in confronting these frequented problems.
On the whole horticulture in Bhutan is still a young prospect, craving for more attention and nationwide interest. The production of various horticultural crops should be increased by heaps. To achieve this goal, various innovative measures can be taken into account. Leasing land for privative companies, providing both financial and material support to the poor farmers and encouraging orchard management ideologies so on. Frantic effort should be given on providing a perfect market for profitable trade and income generation to the farmers. However in view of increasing the production, the health and qualities of our soil and plants must not be compromised. we should venture organically ,healthily and adequately.
Salute to the government, bestowing privilege to pursue degree in horticulture and agriculture .As of now, many have already completed their courses and are rendering selfless service in our country. Being one amongst many others getting this prestigious scholarship, it’s a pride and gratifying experience. With still one more year remaining for my graduation in horticulture, I envisage to work tirelessly in fulfilling our country’s mission of self- reliance in my own small way possible.