Bhutanese teachers become herb gardeners

Herbal garden training participants       

To popularize the usefulness of commonly available and frequently used herbal plants and to conserve the associated traditional knowledge for future generations, ICIMOD Promoted Herbal Gardens in Schools in collaboration with Renewable Natural Resources Research of Bhutan (CoRRB) in 2012.  The in-school herbal gardens have been a full-filling learning activity for the children as they had the opportunity to learn about medicinal plants and their importance through planting, observation and research.

 For 26 teachers, the project created an opportunity to integrate the concept with other the gardens with other activities such as eco-club, writing easy, stories, making poster, painting and preparing recipes. With the request of Renewable Natural Resources Research of Bhutan (CoRRB)/School Agricultural Programme (SAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan ICIMOD organized eight days of hands-on training for the Bhutanese teachers on herb gardening in ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari December 2014. Another training session was held in Bhutan from 3-12h July 2015. The herb garden training in Nepal and Bhutan was supported by DANIDA Fellowship Center (DFC). 

During the training, teachers learned how to design and start an herb garden in school, how to promote awareness, monitor and to scale up the idea, and to identify high value medicinal plants and herbs and their uses in traditional medicines in Bhutan.

Teachers also learned about the commercial uses and marketing of high value medicinal plants. The Institute of Traditional Medicine (ITM) will buy medicinal plants produced by schools. ITM is already working with farm co-operatives to purchasing the herbs for local and international marketing linking producers and buyers. 

The participants presented a progress action plan they prepared in December 2014 at ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari. The training was followed by field visits to climate-smart villages in Sonamthang and Panbang. The field visits were organized by Renewable Natural Resources, Rural Development Centre in Ghelephu. Participants observed non-timber forest products, bamboo propagation and management, the Aghardhup processing plant, as well as livestock and fruit orchards.