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Japan Project
The Green House
The Green House Project is a gift by the Japanese Committee of Dr. Graham’s Homes to the children of the Homes as well as to the people of Kalimpong. The objective of the Project is to propagate and inculcate an interest in floriculture and a love and appreciation of nature. Inaugurated on 24th September 1997, the Green House is centrally located in the Homes’ compound.
Japan Committee
Established in Miyazaki, Japan by Mrs. S. Sugimoto and MIVC (Miyazaki International Volunteer Centre), the Japan Committee functions as an Overseas Committee for sponsoring children at the Homes. It has also set up and maintains the Green House, a vocational training centre for children of the Homes and members of the local community interested in floriculture and horticulture.
The Floriculture and Horticulture Project
The Green House Project developed and grew with the support and guidance of six volunteers from the Japan Committee – Yui, Miya, Maruyama, Hatanaka and Niwa. They were supported by local trainees as well as by Mrs. S. Sugimoto, the President of the Japan Committee, Mr. M. J. Robertson, Chairman and President of the Board of Management, the Late Mr. M. Banerjee,  former Secretary to the Board of Management, Mr. D. Foning, Bursar of the Homes and the management team.

A source of pride for Dr. Graham’s Homes, the Project has gained momentum over the years and the focus has expanded to growing many more varieties of flowers and has diversified into the cultivation of vegetables, fruit and paddy.

The Green House Project is supervised by a team of experts who have been trained in Japan at the Miyazaki Government Experiment Station. They have been responsible for setting up agro-horticulture at the Homes and in imparting technical knowledge and skills to the children and the local community of Kalimpong.

Amongst the many achievements of the Green House Project is the introduction of the cultivation and marketing of exotic Sweet Peas as cut flowers in India. Trials with other flowers like Carnations, Delphiniums and Tulips have also proved successful. Strawberries – both summer and winter varieties – are also being cultivated. At present, Cymbidiums, Phalaenopsis, Statice, Cabbage, Spinach, Peas, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Capsicum and Mushrooms are cultivated and cater to local needs.
The Benefits
Largely due to the interest of its staff and the authorities of the Homes, the Green House Project was expanded in 2002. Currently the Project has two glass houses and fourteen locally made polythene houses.

School children have benefited from the Project and have gained knowledge and an appreciation of the importance of nature.  The Project has also helped many local people to earn a decent livelihood with constant training and guidance provided by the Project staff.

Moving ahead with its future plans, the Project aims to soon be self-sustaining. Future plans include large scale propagation of Cymbidium Orchids and food processing.

JICA Grass Root Level Project – Phase I (2005 to 2008): IGHCSP (India Green House Community Service Project)
Horticulture Technology Centre
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Project for promoting horticulture, sponsored at Dr. Graham’s Homes, Kalimpong, has become a reality through the dedicated efforts of the staff of JICA, MIVC, the Homes and agricultural, floricultural and food processing specialists from Japan. A survey report of target villages conducted in 2005 revealed that communities were enthusiastic about such a project. This was followed by detailed planning and the construction of a Horticulture Technology Centre (HTC).
The fundamental objective of this Project is to contribute towards the village economy and improve living standards in the villages through horticulture supported by planned growth and marketing methods.

Before the cultivation of vegetables and flowers could be initiated, a centre was required to train communities and monitor activities in various locations in and around Kalimpong. The foundation stone of the HTC was laid on 28th November 2005. The construction of the pre-fabricated building equipped with a laboratory, germination room, chemical room, food processing room, lecture/meeting room, grading and sorting room and storage room was completed by the end of April 2006. It was opened on 13th May 2006.

The HTC conducts workshops, seminars, demonstrations and class room sessions to enable farmers, trainees and students to enhance their knowledge of agriculture as well as adopt modern and improved cultivation techniques.

Serving the Community
After extensive field work, five villages – Santook, Pudung, Paiyong,Monchu and Dungra (Cheso-Pani) – were adopted for the cultivation of vegetables, flowers and rice. During the initial stages of the Project, farmers were given rigorous training – theoretical and practical – accompanied by frequent field visits.
Improved Yields
For better germination results, seeds are sown and raised at the Project’s facilities until the saplings are ready for transplantation at the identified villages. Apart from other varieties of rice, two Japanese varieties – Hino Hikari and Koshi Hikari – have proved suitable for cultivation in Kalimpong. As the trials have produced good yields, there are plans to expand cultivation and market the produce profitably. Sweet Potato, which is being grown on a trial basis, will be harvested shortly.

Vinyl houses are being built in the villages for the cultivation of Statice, which has a large market demand. Chrysanthemum and “Hakusai” are also showing positive results. Women from the communities have shown great interest in the Project’s food processing wing. To build awareness, impart knowledge and promote activities in this area, training sessions and testing classes are held at the HTC.

Improving Livlihoods
The positive reaction of the farmers as well as the people of Kalimpong towards the Project has been encouraging. Farmers in the Project villages have benefited both economically and socially.  The Project has received the support of the local government and has gained through collaboration with government agriculture stations.
Future Plans
As a result of the success of the Project, ambitious targets have been set for the next few years. Aiming to double growth every year through mass cultivation and to deepen the market, the achievement of these targets should considerably improve the economic status and living standards of local communities.
JICA GRASS ROOT LEVEL PROJECT – PHASE II (2009 to 2012): RHPP (Regional Horticulture Promotion Project)
The success of the IGHCSP – considered by JICA to be a model project in the country – resulted in its extension with a new project known as the Regional Horticulture Promotion Project (RHPP). The Project is led by Mrs. S. Sugimoto.
The objectives of the project are:
  1. Provide training in Agro-horticulture.
  2. Promote the cultivation and marketing of Agro-horticultural products.
  3. Establish a self-help marketing system.
  4. Provide improved livelihood opportunities for farmers.
  5. Women’s empowerment.

As a result of the extension project valuable assets have been added. These include a fully equipped laboratory for tissue culture, construction of vinyl houses, modern farm equipment like power tillers, rice milling machines etc and a computer lab. The Project Team – now consisting of ten people – includes a volunteer and coordinator, Miki Maebara and an OGB, Stalin Iswary, as trainee-cum-volunteer.

Special horticulture training courses/programmes (Long Term – 1 year, Mid Term – 6 months and Short Term – 1 month) are conducted. Between October 2009 and March 2010, 88 trainees completed the courses. The next training programme will commence from October 2010. The success of these programmes has been due in large measure to the keen interest taken by the staff and lecturers of Dr. Graham’s Homes and UBKV (Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidhyalaya) as well as Government Agriculture Department officers. Along with training in agro-horticulture and knowledge of tissue culture, the courses also include basic computer training. The courses have positively impacted local farming communities as most of the trainees are farmers from the Darjeeling District.

Farmers are encouraged to cultivate agro-horticultural products best suited to their area and of their choice. Organic cultivation is popular and they can avail of assistance in tissue culture from Subash Rai, a member of the Project Team, who has been trained in Japan.

Steps are also being taken to establish a farmers’ co-operative and a self-help marketing system. Along with the improvement in livelihoods, the project also aims to support the economic and social empowerment of women.