NPPC to ex­plore bet­ter maize stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in three dzongkhags

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Kr­ishna Ghal­ley from Phuentshol­ing

The Na­tional Plant Pro­tec­tion Cen­ter (NPPC) in Sim­tokha, Thim­phu is ex­plor­ing new and af­ford­able stor­age fa­cil­i­ties to safe­guard maize from pests and in­sects.

NPPC will con­struct se­cured stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in nine iden­ti­fied gewogs un­der three dzongkhags Ch­hukha, Da­gana and Mong­gar, as a pi­lot pro­ject in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) of the United Na­tions.

More than a thou­sand farm­ers were pro­vided ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment train­ing along with ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers on good stor­age prac­tices in Nepal in 2017. NPPC has pro­cured maize drier, sheller and su­per bags de­signed es­pe­cially for grain stor­age to pro­vide to the farm­ers.

Maize, con­sid­ered a sta­ple diet in most parts of the coun­try is be­ing stored us­ing prim­i­tive meth­ods and has there­fore been a tar­get for pests and other preda­tors. It has been re­ported that 50% of the har­vested crops is lost to preda­tors. How­ever now, NPPC is plan­ning to pro­vide af­ford­able sheds to farm­ers to pro­tect their maize af­ter har­vest. Each shed is ex­pected to cost around Nu 50,000 ac­cord­ing to the NPPC of­fi­cials.

NPP has also con­ducted a se­cond Train­ing of Train­ers for the agri­cul­ture ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers in Phuentshol­ing who will then im­ple­ment the pro­ject in their re­spec­tive gewogs.

Ad­di­tion­ally, NPPC will pro­vide spe­cial pack­ing bags to the farm­ers to pro­tect the crop from pests and ro­dents. Also, they will be pro­vid­ing shelling ma­chines to the farm­ers with sup­port from FAO.

“Maize is a sta­ple diet in Bhutan but peo­ple still fol­low prim­i­tive meth­ods to store it leav­ing it prone to pests and dis­eases so we are ex­plor­ing ways to at­tain food self suf­fi­ciency. We are co­or­di­nat­ing with all the stake­hold­ers to make it suc­cess­ful,” said plant pro­tec­tion spe­cial­ist with NPPC, Dr. Thin­lay.

A sur­vey con­ducted by NPPC found the coun­try’s stor­age prac­tices very poor. Re­port­edly 2-50% of crops across the coun­try is lost from the stor­age fa­cil­i­ties to pests and fungi. “It’s a rec­og­nized prob­lem faced by ru­ral farm­ers. We are ex­plor­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties to solve the prob­lem,” said Dr. Thin­lay.

Af­ter con­duct­ing a re­search on crop dam­age in the nine gewogs of three dzongkhags, the fa­cil­i­ties will be pro­vided to them ini­tially.

Ch­hukha Dzongkhag’s Agri­cul­ture Of­fi­cer Saha Bir Rai said that the ini­tia­tive would help farm­ers in safe­guard­ing their yield and ul­ti­mately in achiev­ing food self suf­fi­ciency. “We are now ready with ma­te­ri­als to im­ple­ment the ini­tia­tive,” he said. Cur­rently, the ma­te­ri­als are stored in Darla gewog and will soon be dis­trib­uted to other iden­ti­fied gewogs.

Oc­tag­o­nal hand maize sheller

Mold dam­aged ker­nels

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