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Updated: 1 hour 6 min ago

USD 20M ADB support for health facilities

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:06

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) handed over 85 audio-visual (AV) television sets to the Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday to help disseminate health information in the peripheral health facilities (BHU) and district hospitals in the country.

A hundred vaccine carrier boxes were also provided to the Royal Centre of Disease Control (RCDC) to enhance the efficiency of sample transportation from hospitals to the Centre for surveillance during the outbreak of diseases.

The equipment would be distributed to 85 BHU-II in eight dzongkhags including Dagana, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, and Zhemgang.

“With the vaccine carrier boxes, samples collected from district hospitals would be transshipped safe with optimum temperature,” said an official with the ministry.

A press release from the ministry said that the television sets would be provided specifically to the Maternal Child Health (MCH) units to screen information and provide communication and education materials.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo highlighted the support as a movement towards focusing on preventive rather than curative health services.

Lyonpo said that the audiovisual television would help disseminate public health messages effectively and encourage mothers to feed their children correctly.

This was one of the components of ADB-funded (USD 20 million grant) project for health sector development programme.

The project spanning over five years is expected to foster equitable access to health facilities and improve health information system besides enhancing the efficiency of service delivery in the peripheral health facilities.

Project Manager with the health ministry, Sangay Tenzin, said that half of the total grant would be invested in the Bhutan Health Trust Fund to ensure sustainability of free basic health services.

USD 4 million will be pumped in developing health information system in the form of Electronic Patient Information System (EPIS).

With the EPIS in place, Sangay Tenzin said that the health information of a patient even at remote health facility could be traced from the referral hospital.

USD 6 million is set aside for the procurement of medical equipment to distribute in peripheral BHUs and district hospitals.

Under the project, four Satellites clinics would be constructed in Thimphu and one in Phuntsholing.

Initiated last year, the project will end in August 2023.

Chimi Dema

Who will develop the transport hub in Gelephu?

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:05

Three months after the issue was raised, there is no decision of who will develop the multi-modal transport hub in Gelephu.

Gelephu Thromde officials said that they have handed over the 55.35-acre area earmarked as transport hub in its structural plan to the regional Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) on July 24.

Thrompon Tikaram Kafley said the thromde’s job was to identify and approve the area. “We have done our part and have already handed over the area to RSTA,” he said.

He said that there are misconceptions that the thromde should develop all the infrastructures and facilities including the services at the multi-modal transport hub. “While we would like to do that, we cannot because of budget constraints,” he said. “Also we do not know the actual needs at the facility which is why we feel that RSTA should take the lead role.”

As per the multi-modal transport hub blueprint, the area will accommodate city-bus centre, bus terminal, driving practice area, the regional RSTA office, traffic station and multiple parking spaces among others.

The thrompon added that in Thimphu, RSTA with support from the ministry came up with the bus terminal. “Similar thing should happen in Gelephu as well. Once completed, thromde can help with beautification works and further developments if there are any as it would be one of the assets of the throm.”

RSTA’s chief road transport officer in Gelephu, Sonam Chophel, said his office had proposed for budget to carry out initial developmental activities at the location after it was approved by the thromde.

“The proposal was shot down because we were told that all capital works would be carried out by the local government in their respective areas,” he said. “We were told that the land development including the construction of infrastructures at the transport hub would be done by thromde.”

Thromde officials said that they have verified with the Gross National Commission Secretariat (GNHC) that the concerned department should execute the work.

Even the right over the area is in question. While thromde claims to have handed over the demarcated land to RSTA, the regional office denies of receiving anything formally.

Meanwhile, once the multi-modal transport hub is completed, the existing bus terminal in the centre of the town and the truck parking near the vegetable market are expected to be relocated.

Officials said that with the bus terminal shifted, most of the taxies would also relocate at the transport hub.

Sonam Chophel said that parking is a major issue in Gelephu. And the arrival of multiple trucks following the boulder export business, the issue has aggravated over the past few months.

However, the thrompon said the pressure has decreased after the boulder business came to a standstill. “The number of trucks plying along the thromde roads have reduced,” he said. “People have not come to us complaining about parking space lately.”

The multi-modal transport hub is located on the left side of the Gelephu-Sarpang highway near the Army Welfare Project Ltd office.

Younten Tshedup | Gelephu

A collective responsibility

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:04

Every life is precious. Losing someone can cause so much grief. It’s worst when a young life is lost, especially for no fault of theirs.

The murder of a seven-year-old boy in Jigmecholing, Gelephu, is unfortunate. The innocent child was last seen with a 19-year-old man, who confessed to the crime and did not have any apparent reason for murdering the child.

Local leaders claim the man is mentally unsound.

Mental illness is fast becoming a major health issue in the country. People living with mental illness need medical and social support. Extending help to such patients will not only benefit them but also ensure safety in the community.

And that responsibility of creating a safe society for our children falls on every Bhutanese—as parents, guardians and neighbours. It’s a collective responsibility.

If there is a mentally ill person in the community, he or she should be referred to a psychiatrist for help. The parents of the mentally ill person should take care of the person. They should seek medical help. The local leaders should take the lead to ensure that the person receives help. The community could come together, render support, and ensure that he doesn’t pose a threat to anyone. Health officials in remote areas should be trained to be able to diagnose and manage such issues.

Mental illness should not, however, be an excuse for criminals. When a 56-year-old woman murdered her four-year-old grandson in 2017 in Thimphu, doctors ruled that she had mental illness and the court acquitted her of the crime.

Doctors know how many people come to them for medical prescriptions to claim mental illness for reasons best known to themselves.

It’s also time we accepted the reality that we are no longer a peaceful country. Crimes like robbery, rape and murder are becoming more common. Records maintained by the police state that there were 1,141 assault and battery cases last year and 1,938 larceny, burglary and robbery cases.

Sexual offences against minors have always been an issue and, in most cases, the perpetrators are people close to the victims.

Our children deserve to be protected from all forms of violence. And we have the laws. What we need is dedicated institutions and committed professionals to address the issues our children are grappling with every day.

When our courts alter child trafficking charges to illegal immigration and attempt to rape to sexual assault, laws can do little to deter the perpetrators.

We need to protect the innocent.

Change begins from workplace

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:03

It’s small and limited, but a few agencies and offices are convinced that changing human behavior and mindset can begin from their workplaces.

The UN Bhutan office is leading the way. They reduced the use of 2,400 bottled water every month. The office installed UV water filtration system and water dispensers in the meeting rooms to limit consumption of bottled water and plastic waste. The initiative began last year.

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Villagers claim NRDCL damaged road

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:02

Residents of Khamaedthang in Samdrupjongkhar say that the trucks ferrying sand from Draduelthang have caused damage to the chiwog’s farm road.

A villager, Tenzin Tshewang, 27, from Khamaedthang chiwog, said that medical emergencies had become difficult with bad road condition.

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Change in Lingzhi as seen through archery tournament

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:01

The Yangphel-style archery tournament in Lingzhi has reached the semi-final.

The tournament, which is organised by the Lingzhi gewog administration, saw 21 teams from Soe, Naro and Lingzhi consisting of five players each.

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UAFC draws DUFC 0-0

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:00

Ugyen Academy (UA) FC failed to advantage of playing at home with good support base when they faced Druk United (DU) FC yesterday. The action-packed game ended in a goal less draw.

In a seesaw battle, both teams created chances and defended well right from the kick off.  UA created a couple of goal-scoring chances, but failed to reward their supporters, the Ugyen Academy students and lcoals of Khuruthang.

DUFC’s disciplined defense kept UA at bay, but they couldn’t create any clear goal-scoring opportunities.

The draw leaves UA trailing Bhutan Football Federation Academy Under-20 by three points who sits at the fourth place in the table with 18 points.

As of yesterday, UA played 10 matches and won four, drew three and lost three to stands fifth in the table with 15 points.

Picture story

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:09

Lingzhi primary school students from Chebisa and Gongyul villages return to school after their weekend break. The students are sent home every fortnight to meet with their parents.

Apple export sees lowest price and falling production

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:08

If Bhutanese apple, once reputed in Bangladesh, is fetching the lowest rates in years, there is no good news for those in the apple export business.

Exporters are saying that apple production is already falling and would fall drastically in the years to come.

With pressure from urbanisation turning apple orchards to residential and commercial hubs in the two apple growing dzongkhags of Paro and Thimphu, apple production is falling.

Kinley Gyem, an exporter based in Thimphu said that Debsi is one good place to take for an example.

“A lot of orchards were there before. It is now a small town,” she said.

What is today called E4 zone in South Thimphu was once apple orchards. “Most of the apple orchards are gone. The few remaining are not taken care like in the past,” said another exporter.

Exporter Kencho, said that it was better for orchard owners to construct a small hut and rent it out instead of relying on the cash crop. “An apple tree that bears good fruit one year would not yield the same next year,” he said. “These days, people often say that apple will not give you food anymore.”

In the early 2000s, a Semtokha landowner, Tshering, said she used to earn around Nu 150,000 from her orchard. Last week, she auctioned her orchard for Nu 15, 000. From about 200 trees, her orchard has only about 50 trees today.

“When we have to construct, the trees had to be cut,” said the landlord.

On the price, Kinley Gyem said the price this year was not good since the beginning of the export season. However, harvest is still better than the last year in some orchards, while harvests in some orchards have dropped.

Exporter Kencho blames those people involved in the apple business for the poor market value this year.

“Bhutanese are lured for high returns by traders in Phuentsholing,” he said. “Bhutanese buy at low prices in haste and take it to the border town. After the apple reaches there, the traders would manipulate and say the market has weakened due to apples from Shimla and Kashmir hitting the market.”

In the apple export business, exporters feel Bhutanese are always at the losing end. “We are giving them all the advantage. How will it benefit us?” Kencho said.

The Bangladesh market for Bhutanese apple is also dwindling, exporters say.

Nim Tshering, a regular exporter to Bangladesh said his parties in Bangladesh have said there is no market anymore for Bhutanese apples.

“While the prices are high, the quality is not good, it seems,” he said. Bangladesh parties have shown less interest in building Letter of Credits for this business, Nim Tshering said. The floor price for Bhutanese apples going to Bangladesh is USD 600 this year.

Kinley Gyem also said that parties in Bangladesh informed her that there is no market. She stopped exporting to Bangladesh in 2017 and shifted her focus in the Indian market.

In 2018, Bhutan exported 1,860 metric tonnes (MT) of apples to Bangladesh. It was just 620.2MT in 2017. In 2016, about 1,164.20MT was exported to Bangladesh. About 1,415.88MT was exported in 2015.

According to figures with the Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA), which includes export to both Bangladesh and India, Bhutan exported 2,724MT of apples in 2016 worth USD 1.2M. However, this is a decrease from 2,896.19MT worth USD 1.3M in 2015, and 6,772.42MT worth 4.4M in 2014.


Market rate and quality

The best quality apple is fetching between Nu 600 and Nu 750 per box today in Phuentsholing, which is a slight improvement from Nu 500 in the beginning of the season.

In 2018, price ranged from Nu 600 to Nu 1,000 per box. A box of apple weighs about 18-20kg.

Average quality apples are fetching Nu 400 to Nu 500 per box, while the lowest category apples are fetching Nu 250 to Nu 300 per box.

In 2016, apples fetched about Nu 1,000 to Nu 1,200 per box, the highest in the last five years.

Meanwhile, traders in the border town said that Bhutanese apple always have stiff competition with the Indian apples that are properly graded before hitting the market.

A manager with the export house, Ugyen Tshongkhang in Phuentsholing said both production and quality has improved compared to last year.

“But the market value is not good this year,” he said.

The manager said that while grading of apples needed to be improved, packaging was better this year. “Farmers are bringing the apples packed in plastic crates, which is better than the wooden boxes,” he said, adding the buyers in India had lost interest in apples coming in wooden boxes.

Traders said farmers used to mix poor quality apples inside the wooden boxes to cheat. With the plastic trays, traders could not be cheated.

Ugyen Tshogkhang has exported about 150 truckloads of apple this year. Most of the apples are exported to Indian local markets in Silliguri, Assam, Cooch Bihar, and Bongaigaon.

Tagshing Chung Export owner said that Indian apples are still dominating the market and attributed this reason to falling prices for Bhutanese apple. Tagshing has exported 20,000 boxes until yesterday.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing

19-year-old implicated in murder of minor

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:07

A 19-year-old man is under custody for alleged murder of a seven-year-old boy in Jigmechholing gewog, Sarpang.

The incident took place when the deceased and his grandmother went to attend the annual ritual at the gewog’s public lhakhang on September 8.

The deceased who is from Jigmechholing Khatoe was studying in class PP in one of the schools in the gewog.

Sources said that the boy had gone missing after lunch. Around 3pm when the grandmother was looking for the deceased to return home, she couldn’t find him. Assuming he would be with friends, the grandmother left for home.

Jigmechholing gup, Kumar Gurung said the family didn’t inform of the missing boy after he failed to show up that night “The family thought that the kid was staying over at his friends place.”

The next morning when the grandmother went to the school to reach the boys uniform, the school administration informed that the boy had not come to school.

Gewog and school officials, students and residents began searching for the missing boy around 8:30am. The body of the deceased was found inside one of the drains near the gewog office along the Zhemgang-Gelephu highway around 11am.

Gup Kumar Gurung said that people began suspecting the 19-year-old for the murder as he was also seen at the scene near the lhakhang the previous day. “We called the police and began looking for the suspect,” he said.

The suspect was found collecting cardamom in a nearby area. “He confessed to killing the boy upon interrogation,” said the gup. The suspect said he was drunk when the incident happened.

In his statement, the suspect had said that he knocked the deceased down and hit him with a stone on the head. Assuming he was dead, the suspect then dragged the body through the bushes and wanted to throw it off a cliff.

“He said that he had removed the cloths from the body as it was obstructing while dragging,” said the gup. After arriving at the highway, the suspect decided to hide the body in a drain. “He went home after getting rid of the body.”

The gup added that the suspect is a mentally disturbed individual and stays with his parents in the gewog.

Police are investigating the case.

Meanwhile, the remains of a decomposed body that was found near Pemathang chiwog in Gelephu on September 7 has been identified as the caretaker of a transmission company.

The deceased was 53-year-old from Chudzom gewog, Gelephu.

Gelephu gup, Ugyen Wangchuk, said that the body was found with both the kidneys missing. “Staff of the transmission company said that he was a chronic alcoholic. These information and the uniform at the site helped us identify the body.”

It was learned that the deceased had asked for leave on August 29 to visit his village.

The remains of the body were handed over to the relatives on September 8.

Younten Tshedup | Gelephu

Picture story

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:06

Lakshuman Chhetri formally takes over the responsibilities of the Media Council as the Chief Information and Media Officer yesterday.

The Media Council secretariat will temporary function from the office of the department of information and media until the Royal Civil Service Commission provides full manpower and a secretariat. 

Mr Bhutan 2017 convicted for defamation and harassment

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:05

Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench II sentenced Sangay Tsheltrim, Mr Bhutan 2017, to three months in prison for defamation and harassment.

The judgment passed on September 6 stated that although the defendant was liable for two counts of crimes, he was given a concurrent sentencing, as he committed the crime together and also for not having prior criminal record.

The judgment stated that Sangay Tsheltrim had alleged Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation (BBWF) and a proprietor of a private school in Thimphu, Vivi Tshering, of corruption and colluding and made personal remarks against Vivi Tshering on a Facebook live streaming on October 10, 2017.

The court ruled that his allegations were found to be false without substantial evidence as per section 95 of the Evidence Act.

The case first surfaced after Sangay Tsheltrim went live on Facebook alleging that his performance in the ninth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship in Mongolia that year was turned over by politics in the federation. He stood fourth in Men’s Athletic Physique up to 175cm category.

The judgement stated that although the defendant’s lawyer Yeshi Wangdi submitted before the court that his client used Facebook to report the truth to his supporter, he took the law in his hand without any respect to the country’s prevailing laws.

The judgment stated that if the defendant thought the results were unfair, he could have approached legal and concerned authorities instead of resorting to Facebook. “There was no evidence of the allegations.”

It also stated that after the defendant’s live streaming on Facebook, another Facebook user, Lengo Tashi used the victim’s photo and made many unnecessary comments in various social media platforms, which affected the victim’s reputation and “social standing”.

The judgment also stated that although the defendant’s lawyer argued that his client should not be held liable for making statements on Facebook, as he was expressing his right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression, as per section 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution, the court cited section 5 of Article 8 of the Constitution and ruled that a Bhutanese citizen also has the responsibility not to intrude on other’s privacy and affect their reputation.

The court also found Sangay Tsheltrim guilty of harassment. It stated that after his Facebook post, many people commented against the victim and her family.

The judgment stated that although the defendant is liable to pay compensation to the victim, the victim didn’t want compensation.

Meanwhile, the court stated that while social media brought positive impact in the lives of people, many post comments on use social media without analysing the repercussions. “Relevant organisations have also not conducted any awareness, which led to the misuse of media that caused problems in the society.”

The court, therefore, directed the recently established Media Council to frame regulations and guidelines in line with section 71 of Chapter 4 of the Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Act of Bhutan 2018.

Tashi Tenzin and Tashi Dema

Health ministry to create playful parenting

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:04

To promote playful parenting throughout the country, Ministry of Health (MoH) will implement a project called ‘Prescription to Play: A Framework to integrate, scale-up and sustain playful parenting in the health system (P2P)’.

The draft framework was exchanged between the implementers yesterday.

The framework, which would be implemented by MoH and Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, would complete the signing agreement at the end of this week.

This, according to the ministry officials, is after the successful implementation of Care for Child Development (C4CD Plus) pilot in improving children’s home environment and interaction with parents in 2017 and 2018.

The programme was designed for caregivers of children below three years and was piloted in Punakha and Paro to improve holistic child development outcomes for children.

The MoH, in collaboration with Save the Children Country Office, had carried out C4CD+ study and found it successful. It was revealed that it helps in holistic child health development by initiating early play and interactions.

MoH programme analyst, Chakchu Tsheirng, said that P2P is a three-year programme that would scale-up the previous C4CD+.

The programme would be funded by the LEGO Foundation, world’s renowned philanthropist wings of toy manufacturer based in Denmark in support to achieve national scale-up goal. The Foundation has funded approximately Nu 63 million to cover all the 20 dzongkhags.

Chakchu Tshering said that the P2P would improve playful interactions between primary caregivers and their children from birth to three years, promote playful interactions and to sustain implementation after completion of the project.

The project is expected to benefit 56,464 children in 20 dzongkhags where the projects would be implemented in three phases with a total of 639 implementers and nine policymakers.

It would scale-up evidence-based playful parenting interventions to allow all the children to reach their full potential. It is expected to also improve practice among health assistants to promote playful interactions between caregivers and children.

Yangchen C Rinzin

So that we are not beaten hollow

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:03

For many Bhutanese September 10 passed without any special significance. There was nothing out of the common about the day that just slipped by.

But for the members of the society who are in the know and care, to let the World Suicide Prevention Day go conspicuously unmarked was more than a little unsettling.

We might ever and anon pad ourselves on the back and sometimes get helplessly carried away as we claw in and prod into Gross National Happiness to give it a new dimension and meaning, but a new dawn has arrived and with it new challenges at our doors.

The temptation to bask in our Shangri-La image can be irresistible. We are clearly not done with it yet. But the need to invoke a reality check to shake us out of delusion is becoming more urgent by the day.

Modern Bhutan is a story of challenges and opportunities. And in the fast-paced world we live in, we cannot do without putting our best foot foremost to succeed in shaping the kind of society we aspire for, built and nurtured around the idea of welfare and happiness of the citizens.

Symptomatic cracks are beginning to show, however, and these tell-tale signs of a society breaking under the strain of development priorities and needs must not go a-begging.

Among the many serious problems confronting our small society today, suicide is a rapidly-growing concern. A recent report by a well-placed world body was shocked to learn that suicide is among the leading causes of death in the country after alcohol liver disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and deaths along of traffic accidents.

In a GNH country that is widely known and acknowledged for putting collective happiness and the well-being of the population at the front and centre of her development policies and initiatives, this fact does not seat well.

In 2018, almost seven Bhutanese took their own lives every month—at least one every week. And we know that many cases go unreported due to stigma attached to suicide. But the thing is we know who are vulnerable, which is to say that we also know why people choose to put an end to their lives.

Going by the records, it appears that the need to rush with development is pushing our young people and those from the economically disadvantaged backgrounds to the fringes—youth unemployment has been on the rise and failing agriculture is leaving the villages empty. When they are at the end of their tether for long, they have only to take sad and drastic measures.

Suicide prevention should be more than mere lip service because it reflects the health of our society. If our development policies are falling short, it may now be time to rethink because development without happy and contented citizens will be meaningless and costly.

In the absence of prevention action plan and strategies—three-year action plan 2015-2018 cannot be considered relevant—there is a need for one urgently. And every effort must be made so that we are not beaten hollow in this endeavour.

Villagers question elected leaders for want of road

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:02

Tired of carrying loads, sometimes patients on makeshift stretchers for hours to the nearest road point, villagers of Ngambinang are questioning elected leaders, both at the local and national levels.

The village in Yangneer gewog, Trashigang, with about 13 households is one of the most remote villages in the dzongkhag. The nearest farm road ends at a place called Kukuri. From Kukuri, it is about four hours walk to Ngambinang.

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Tenzin Lekphel declines DNT presidentship

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:01

One of the founding members of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Tenzin Lekphel, has declined the party’s top job.

Tenzin Lekphel

The party’s executive committee last month had nominated the 53-year-old from the Bartsham Shongphu constituency of Trashigang for the post of party president, according to the party secretariat. He is the party’s former general secretary.

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BFF Academy humbles PUFC 11-3

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 16:00

Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) Academy U-20 thrashed Phuentsholing United FC (PUFC) 11-3 in the ongoing BOB Bhutan Premier League at Phuentsholing yesterday.

In a clear case of dominance, BFF Academy strolled through the first half of the game starting from the kick off. Dorji Khandu’s stunning goal in two minutes gave BFF Academy an early lead.

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Picture story

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:18

The dismantling of the  utse of the Lingzhi Dzong is underway as part of the reconstruction project. The project is expected to be completed before the end of the 12th Plan.

MSPC formalises tshogpa for sustainable collection of medicinal plants

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:17

Unsustainable harvesting of medicinal herbs in the highlands is threatening the long-term survival of traditional medicine in the country. This is the concern.

An association so, called Tsherem Yuegyal Ngomen Tshogpa, was formed years ago in Lingzi, Thimphu to strengthen the collection of medicinal plants in the gewog. But, alas, it has largely been a dormant group until very recently.

A new lease of life had to be given the group and it did receive last week, at long last. It, the group, was formalised. This means the tshogpa now has a clear mandate and direction.

Officials from Menjong Sorig Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd (MSPC) visit the gewog for the collection of the medicinal plants from Lingzi households every year.

About 80 percent of high altitude medicinal plants are collected from Lingzhi every year.

Thukten Choeda, MSPC’s chief executive officer, said that with the formalisation of the group, the collection of the medicinal plants would be streamlined in terms of payment and coordination, among others.

A member each from the gewog’s 86 households attended the formalisation programme.

Thukten Choeda said that the formalisation of the group would ensure the conservation of the medicinal plants the forest department would henceforth issue permit and monitor the collection of medicinal herbs.

“The chairman, secretary and the treasurer of the tsgogpa will coordinate the collection of the medicinal plants,” he said.

The tsgogpa will create a bank account and all payments will be routed through the bank.

Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreement to access and utilise Rhododendron anthopogon for commercial production of hand sanitizer was also formalised.

Thukten Choeda said that five percent of sale revenue from the product will be shared with the tsgogpa and another two percent would be contributed to Bhutan Access and Benefit sharing fund maintained with MOAF.

While the terms and conditions of the medicinal plant collection group was made by the forest department, terms and conditions of the ABS agreement was designed by the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) in Thimphu as focal agent for genetic resources.

During the signing of the agreements on September 7, Lingzhi Drungpa Mani Sangye said that while the income from the Cordyceps is huge, in the future, income from harvesting medicinal plant would be more sustainable.

He urged people to support the collection of the medicinal plants as it benefits the whole population in the gewog.

Officials from the MSPC trained the members on sustainable harvesting of the herbs and maintaining hygiene. They were also trained in identification of the medicinal plants.

Dechen Tshomo  | Lingzhi

CLC learners exhibit vocational skills

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:15

To showcase their vocational skills, the learners of Community Learning Centres (CLC) from dzongkhags and thromdes took part in the first-ever national-level CLC exhibition and fair in Thimphu as part of the celebration of the International Literacy Day.

The two-day event, which ended yesterday, saw 22 participants exhibit products made by the learners using the skills they acquired at CLC.

CLC learners are the non-formal education (NFE) graduates who completed Post Literacy Course in NFE.

The CLC was initiated with the objective of skilling the NFE graduates with vocational skills. Today, there are 272 CLC learners in the country.

Deputy programme officer Tenzin Rabgyal said that although many CLC learners had graduated from CLC since its inception, no common and proper platform was created to display their skills and products.

“This time, we wanted to motivate the CLC learners, exchange ideas, market their products, and promote entrepreneurship,” he said. “The exhibition was not only to sell the products but to also explore other products and opportunities.”

The participants were given Nu 25,000 each for the exhibition and fair.

Tenzin Rabgyal said that the exhibition looked into the way forward where the ministry planned to open 30 CLC by the end of 12th Plan, which means two CLC every fiscal year. “Such an event would create avenues to support channeling and distribution their products in the market. This will also help build their entrepreneurship skills.”

He said that the programme benefitted learners, mostly women, who had established their own tailoring shops, companies, or were able to run a business from home.

Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) under “2019 Bridge Bhutan Project” funded the event with USD 45,000, including for the coordination meeting, exhibition and for a video on the NFE, which will be launched in November.

Displaying various products, the CLC learners expressed that it was a good platform to learn from each other.

Some said that besides learning how to read and write, the CLC gave them vocational skills and such events encouraged them to work hard.

Some of the learners had taken advantage of the plastic ban and had woven plastic baskets and other creative products.

The fair did not see many buyers, however.

Tenzin Rabgyal said that there was a plan to make the event annual if successful. “This time the event was mostly focused on showcasing the skills.”

The NFE was first introduced in 1990 to empower women. The NFE today provides functional literacy and numeracy to the youth and adults who had missed out on formal schooling.

In 2016, 343 NFE graduates took part in Local Government elections, out of which 151 were elected. Four were elected gups, 38 mangmi (two females), and 109 tshogpas (14 females).

According to the Annual Education Statistics, in 2018 there were 560 NFE centres with more than 6,017 learners—1,788 are male and 4,229 female.

Yangchen C Rinzin