Farmer’s efforts bearing fruit in Bhutan
THIMPHU—Fourteen years after he first brought Japanese techniques of fruit cultivation to Bhutan, Yuichi Tomiyasu has received a gold medal for his contributions to that country, the first Japanese person ever to receive the honor.
“If you take your time and don’t rush, things always manage to work out,” said the 65-yearold Tomiyasu, who always has a smile on his face. He brought such varieties as the Hosui pear and the Jirogaki persimmon to the small Himalayan country, known as the nation of happiness.
Born in a household of mandarin orange farmers in Kumamoto Prefecture, Tomiyasu undertook agricultural training in the United States. His desire to test the cultivation technology he had learned in unfamiliar lands led him to become a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and later the director of cultivation at the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Tomiyasu stayed for 20 years in Nepal, where he established a means of growing watermelon. The fruit was well known for its sweetness even in neighboring India.
In Bhutan, Tomiyasu visited farmers’ houses one by one and persistently taught cultivation techniques suited for the highlands. Ripe pears attracted people’s attention when a highranking government official started taking them as gifts on visits to foreign countries, and sales channels for the fruit expanded to hotels and elsewhere.
“Farmers are making more money, and their lives have improved,” Tomiyasu said with a sense of accomplishment.
His efforts are certainly bearing fruit, but Tomiyasu has no plans to slow down. “I have to keep an eye on things for another 10 years to ensure the fruits are of high quality. I won’t stop until pears and persimmons are described as local specialties in textbooks,” he said.