If everything goes as planned, in the next few years, people in rural areas will be able to grow high-value fruits both for local consumption and export. The third phase of the Million Fruit Tree Plantation Project was launched at Chang Mendi of Wangchang Gewog in Paro today, coinciding with the eighth birthday of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey.
To mark the launch, eight almond seedlings were planted.
The initiative this year plans to plant 1.2 million high-value fruit trees in both temperate and subtropical areas. In February and March, temperate fruit seedlings including almonds, walnuts, Pecan nuts, kiwis and apples will be distributed and planted as Royal Soelra.
Similarly, in June and July, high-value subtropical fruit seedlings like Macadamia nut, Irwin Mango, Avocado, Agarwood and Mandarin among others will be planted through the engagement of thousands of DeSuups.
According to the Department of Agriculture, there are currently two million fruit trees growing well across the country.
“We have different categories of plants. Some are grafted and some are not. Those grafted will start to fruit from the fourth year or so and those that are non-grafted will take at least five years. So the plants will enter into economic fruiting within five to six years,” said Yonten Jamtsho, director of the Department of Agriculture.
“We have chosen experienced DeSuups for the initial phase in the temperate regions, involving over 600 volunteers. Later in the middle of the year, when we initiate in the subtropical regions, we will engage over 1,600 DeSuups because there are more tree saplings,” said Sonam Wanghuk, the coordinator of the DeSuung National Service Million Fruit Tree Plantation Project.
People who took part in the launch were hopeful and confident that the initiative would bring about positive outcomes.
“In the earlier phase, DeSuups provide us with the tree saplings. They visited us, showing us how to plant trees correctly, water them and maintain proper spacing. We received pears, apricots and plums. Growing these high-value fruits is great for our use and selling them can fetch us a good price,” said Dawa Tshering, a resident of Nakha.
“We are receiving the tree saplings from His Majesty The King as a soelra and experts from the Department of Agriculture have carefully chosen the best varieties for us. I believe this will help us become more self-sufficient in food and also generate good income in the future. That’s why I am planning to plant as many saplings as I receive this year,” said Dorji Wangdi, a resident of Mendi.
The Million Fruit Trees Project, a joint initiative of the DeSuung National Service and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock was launched in 2022 under the Royal Command of His Majesty The King to bring youth closer to rural Bhutan, foster food security and support farmers.
The first phase planted fruit seeds of about 22 different fruit varieties across the country within two and half months and the second phase planted more than 1.3 million fruit trees. The Ministry will replace the plants that have not survived in the previous phases of the project to ensure at least one million fruit plants are on the ground