Joint monitoring of Himalica pilot project in Tsirang, Bhutan

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Interaction with vegetable and goat farmers’ groups
Photo credit: Tshering Samdrup/ICIMOD

The Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya (Himalica) project organized a joint monitoring visit (JMV) to Barshong Gewog of Tsirang district in Bhutan from 28 to 29 March 2017. The aim of the visit was to assess Himalica interventions on the field from the viewpoints of national, district and local level stakeholders from Bhutan and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) team, as well as receive their feedback for further improving the project’s effectiveness and sustainability.  The visit focused on two main aspects of the project: 1) achievements at the output and outcome levels; and 2) sustainability issues.

During the visit, the joint monitoring team interacted with goat and vegetable value chain groups formed by Himalica and a few  progressive farmers to learn about achievements, and the challenges facing the project. They also observed climate-smart technologies and practices used for making production systems more resilient such as low-cost polyhouses, water ponds, improved cattle and goat sheds, biodigesters, the improved Beetal goat breed, and the farm road introduced by Himalica. 

The monitoring team observing a poly pond for harvesting water for irrigation
Photo credit: Tshering Samdrup/ICIMOD

The team learnt that the Himalica project in Bhutan has made good progress and achieved many tangible results within a short span of time.  They also found that the aspiration of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) have been integrated into the project. They observed that Himalica has established a solid base for increasing the income potential of farmers through the commercialization of vegetable farming, collective marketing, and market linkages.

The team also recommended areas for improvement such as enhancing the capacities of farmers (men and women) to use poly-houses for growing not only quality seedlings but also off-season vegetables, providing training on leadership and financial management to farmers’ groups, and building local capacities on springshed management.  The team underscored the need to install more water harvesting ponds for irrigation; to engage the private sector proactively for local products development, branding, and marketing; and to strengthen market linkages through the implementation of necessary value chain upgrading strategies and coordination mechanisms involving farmers' groups. The need to develop and disseminate key messages arising from the project to relevant stakeholders in Bhutan and beyond was also flagged. 

A green polyhouse managed by a young progressive farmer and entrepreneur
Photo credit: Tshering Samdrup/ICIMOD

The joint monitoring team comprised of Bhutanese representatives from the GNHC Secretariat, the Planning and Policy Division, the Agriculture Production Division, Regional Agricultural  Marketing and Cooperatives, Tsirang District Adminstration, Barshong Administration, Barshong communities, and the Himalica coordination teams based in Bhutan, and ICIMOD, Kathmandu.