Himalica – EU Funded Project To Be Incorporated In Bhutan’s 12th Plan
Himalica has promoted climate-resilient practices, community-based micro planning and sustainable land management in Bhutan.
By Pema Seldon | Business Bhutan
The EU - funded support for rural livelihoods and climate change adaption in the Himalayas (Himalica) program, which has worked in five countries is being considered for Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan.
Aims of the Himalica project
Himalica aims to enhance the capacity of national and regional stakeholders for dealing with livelihood development and environmental protection in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). It also seeks to reduce poverty by increasing resilience and unlocking new livelihood opportunities.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), together with various national partners has developed and promoted mountain specific resilient solutions for HKH by combining economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The Himalica pilot project in Bhutan is currently being implemented in the Barshog gewog. A gewog consists of five communities such as the Barshong Toed, Barshong Maed, Gangtokha, Chunyikhang and Toedsang.
The gewog comprises of 249 households with a population of 2,383 people. It focuses on import substitution along value chains such as goat and vegetables (beans, cabbage, onion and ginger) which were selected through a consultative process.
Moreover, Himalica in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) has developed climate-resilient value chains for fresh vegetables and goat rearing. It also reappraises the country’s approach to organic agriculture.
In addition, Himalica assesses poverty and vulnerability by examining the ecosystems in Barshong gewog under the Tsirang dzongkhag.
According to the GNH survey 2013, the Tsirang dzongkhags has a lower general literacy rate, lower mean annual household income and higher unemployment than the national average.
Through the Himalica project, the average income of beneficiary households increased by Nu 42,936, out of which vegetable farming accounted for Nu 14, 142.
Trainings provided by Himalica
The project has also arranged exposure trips on goat farming and vegetables production for farmers and held trainings on value chain analysis enterprise development, beekeeping management and spring water protection.
So far, 45 member goat farmers’ groups were formed and had themselves registered at the district level.
Some of the key interventions made so far are the identification of farmers to be involved in goat and vegetables value chains in Barshong. It also conducted a demonstration of sustainable land management practices and constructed bio-digesters in each community in the gewog.
Under the Himalica initiative, the royal society for the protection of nature (RSPN), with technical support from the ICIMOD also carried out a study to understand the state and dynamics of the ecosystems and their services in Barshog as well as their nexus with human well-being.
Multi-dimensional poverty and livelihood vulnerability assessment were also conducted to understand and document various dimensions of poverty and livelihood vulnerability.
This is expected to provide clues about the differences in the intensity and composition of poverty across six selected districts (Bumthang, Paro, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Trashiyangtse and Tsirang).
This information will also be useful for decision makers who need to identity intervention areas and guide measures to reduce vulnerability.
Himalica promotes beekeeping
The project is also promoting beekeeping and honey value chain analysis. As honeybees improve agricultural productivity, Himalica supported the integration of beekeeping as a livelihood diversification option in Tsirang, where nearly one-fifth of the households keep native bees in traditional hives.
After assessing the feasibility and potential for beekeeping development in the area, Himalica also identified enterprising youth and farmers including women, who were interested in taking up beekeeping.
The training and exposure plus learning visits were arranged to encourage improved beekeeping management.
Till date, Himalica has promoted climate-resilient practices, community-based micro planning and sustainable land management to empower more than 200 rural households.
This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.