The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island country that is an archipelago near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. The largest Bahrain Island is 34 miles long by 11 miles wide. In 2010 population was 1,234,571 including 666,172 non-nationals (including a US military presence).  Public domain map and information from Wikipedia (Commons). 
           Burton sent this postcard of Bahrain's famous Tree of Life in the midst of a dessert with no visible source of water that appeared in the Mailbag section of the May 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical & True Indoor Bonsai.

"BONSAI;  Bridge to International Friendship & Peace!"

             This was the theme of the milestone 1980 International Bonsai Congress in Hawaii hosted by the Hawaii Bonsai Association and co-sponsored by Bonsai Clubs International, American Bonsai Society, and included the first international participation by Japan's Nippon Bonsai Association. It was a major event that started the international bonsai movement and included the first major introduction of Chinese penjing, and the introduction of the Hawaiian bonsai community.  Fuku-Bonsai played a major role and continues bonsai efforts to promote, preserve and educate in partnership with the 501(3)(c) Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation.

             Recently we found an opening that may help us to introduce bonsai to Bahrain,  a small independent country strategically located in the Persian Gulf where there is a US military presence to help insure the continued opening of international waters through which a large part of the world's oil is transported. Burton contacted us from his deployment in Bahrain, visited us, and is back in Bahrain where he is exploring whether or not it is possible to teach those in his command, as well as the residents of Bahrain bonsai!  He's leading the challenge and Fuku-Bonsai will support and assist in any way possible.  This portal page will provide detail and progress reports.


            Burton visited Fuku-Bonsai and took special classes to provide the background for teaching bonsai in Bahrain.



              Burton redeployed to Bahrain and we got our first set-back. He timed the shipment of his three trees created at Fuku-Bonsai to arrive on a specific date as he knew the deployment date and had the necessary agricultural documentation. FedEx delivered to the command address, but parcels delivered a day later while enroute to Bahrain! So his three trees are in the care of his friends at the Virginia base!

             July 27, 2013: Burton reports his goal to create a Bahrain Bonsai Club that would work with both military and Bahrain residents. He will be getting more information from the MWR (Moral, Welfare, and Recreation) Coordinators within the command.

             August 1, 2013: Obtained approval to have the command co-sponsor the workshop for those interested. Will be making promotional flyers, reserve the base's multi-purpose room and thinking of the first Saturday in September. Bahrain customs didn't have much information and will check with the FedEx office as to regulations and costs. Haven't been able to discuss with the MWR Director yet. Haven't made progress with the locals yet. In the Ramadan season and after that things will get back to normal.

            August 12, 2013: His command will co-sponsor the Introductory Workshops and cover half of the costs of the plants (but not shipping) and 34 people in the command has signed up to date. We are trying to get accurate information as to the import requirements and the costs to get the IWP units there.

            August 19, 2013: Burton obtained an application for an Import Permit. We are still not yet in contact with FedEx Bahrain to figure out the cost differential between US and Bahrain shipments. Burton reports additional sign-ups. With such a large group, I've recommended that he first teach those that have some experience first, and that they become "assistant instructors" for a second workshop with the larger group. It's also recommended that we promote the theme: "BONSAI; BRIDGE TO INTERNATIONAL FRIENDSHIP AND PEACE!" We hope to expand beyond the US command and introduce True Indoor Bonsai to Bahrain residents too!



            August 22, 2013:  Burton reports contact with a Bahrain agriculture official who reviews the information, invites formal submittal of the import permit application, but request addition of three more units for him to participate.  The quantity quote was $12.50 per unit plus shipping differential.  The command will pick up $6.25 each, participants will contribute $6.25, and Burton will pick up the shipping differential! Fuku-Bonsai will contributed in other ways including covering other export costs. 

            August 24, 2013:  Burton reports no contact with FedEx Bahrain but reports some plan to leave their workshop trees for future deployment individuals to carry on and that those on deployment will continue if interested once they return to the United States.

           August 28, 2013:  Import permission received from Bahrain and forwarded to USDA officials in Hilo, Hawaii. Bahrain agricultural officials assure Burton there will be no problems.  No FedEx news.   

           September 7, 2013:  I reported to Burton:  1)  That Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) will be requiring pre-shipment treatment and requested that the import permission be amended.  2)  That FedEx will not accept plants for shipment to Bahrain even with a phytosanitary certificate.  3)  That I am in contact with an established air freight company and have started to address the formal requirements to become a "known air freight shipper" to address terrorist security regulations


          September 8-12, 2013:  Amended Bahrain import permission received and forwarded to USDA and Hawaii Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine (HDOA Pesticide) requesting specification of pre-shipment treatment. Extensive email correspondence involved the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Hilo, the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Relations (UH-CTAHR) Cooperative Extension Service, agricultural chemical distributors, and the treatment manufacturer provides assurances and information to complete  a consensus for optimum treatment to be applied as a drench.  An initial pre-shipment treatment and sealed packing trial will determine if there will be any plant damage and/or whether the treatment was effective.  Fuku-Bonsai meets all requirements and executes a contract with Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI) who transport perishable products worldwide to start the 7-day security delay waiting period.  Routing will go from Hilo to Kona (via truck) to Los Angeles for consolidation to Bahrain via Dubia.  Fuku-Bonsai also completes registration with USDA's Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT).

         September 19, 2013: The pre-treatment will be ready for pick-up at the distributor's Hilo branch on Tuesday, September 24 and we'll make a sample trial to assure it will not harm the plants.  If successful the shipment will be scheduled for early October and an update report will likely be in the next Journal issue.       


         September 24-30, 2013:  The pre-treatment trial seemed to be successful and plants did not exhibit any phototoxic effects.  The shipment was scheduled and the USDA-APHIS phytosanitary certificate application was made on-line.  A commercial invoice and letter of origin was provided to aid in clearing customs and for Burton to submit for partial reimbursement.

         October 1, 2013 (Tuesday):  The plants had been cleaned,  the components of the Introductory Workshop Package individually assembled and packed on the bottom of the carton and a USDA-APHIS officer appeared at the nursery on scheduled to confirm that the pre-treatment was mixed and applied  in accordance to the label directions. The officer noted a discrepancy and required that another import permission be amended before the shipment could be cleared. An urgent email was sent to Bahrain. Based upon label information and import permission requirements the shipment was to be packed within 48 hours after treatment and we planned to start packing the next day,  picking up the USDA phytosanitary certificate in Hilo, and to get the carton to the air freight station before noon to be able to meet the pre-scheduled first leg which was trucking to Kona Airport.    

         October 2, 2013 (Wednesday):  Fortunately, the second amended import permission had arrived from Bahrain and the packing began. The larger gift and sample plants had all information and Nutrient Granules in a small ziplock sleeve attached to a specific plant which sat on the matching saucer and gravel so each unit was packed together onto a wood pallet that just fitted inside the carton.  



           Michael had marked the height of the wood pallet and gun stapled all around the carton to hold the kits packed below in place.  Each of the workshop 48 plants were rolled in newspaper,  six inserted into a polybag and two bundles strapped to each of 4 cardboard fillers that were stapled to the tops of each side of the carton.  So all the foliage sections of the plants were in the center of the carton. 


           At USDA-APHIS Hilo, the work was mostly done. Inspection confirmed the number of plants that had been treated,  the certificate issued, paid for and a receipt received.  The original of the phyto and invoice was placed in an envelop,  taped down,  and a simple rubber stamp:  "Phytosanitary Certificate Enclosed" on the envelop,  on the outside of the carton,  and we were off to the air freight station of Commodities Forwarders Inc. (CFI ) "Transporting Perishable Products Worldwide."  Noi handle the paperwork like the professional that she is.  By the time we got back to Fuku-Bonsai,  their was a confirmation email that the carton was on a truck heading for Kona.  A few hours later, a second confirmation told of being loaded aboard a plane leaving for Los Angeles.  And in the morning, confirmation of arrival and later a pick-up by the airlines that would be taking it to Bahrain!  I emailed to Burton and checked my email daily.



          OCTOBER 6,  2013 (Sunday).   Good news David!  The trees have arrived, a day earlier than expected as well. The trees look awesome!      I got a call from customs and clearings today about the package and I went to pick it up.

           It was a bit of an ordeal getting them through customs; they looked at me like I was crazy. They kept asking me for my C.R. (importer) number but I kept telling them it was for personal use. With 56 trees in the package I can understand why they didn't believe me. I explained to each officer I talked to that they were for a workshop me and other people were having. I spent a good 3 hours throughout the day there because I had to leave to go to work, come back, talk to a few more people, go back to work because they close during the middle of the day, then come back when the evening shift came in.

           I was very worried as I kept talking to various people and they kept asking me questions; but since I had the proper paperwork and the permit, they seemed to start to cooperate with me. Ahmed helped some I think as well because I gave him a call. The first time I saw the package it was out in the middle of the warehouse floor strewn upon, I could see leaves. Oh man that had me worried. I had to pay a 35 BD clearing and handling fee but I got the trees and we brought them back to a flat that one of the people who has helped a lot lives in. My friend in the photo has helped a lot to make this possible. 

            I cut the corners of the box like you said and started to pull the packages out one by one, as I removed the trees I noticed the big one in the center. I saved that one for last because I was very excited and curious what was in there. Oh man I am impressed! Thank you so much! All of these trees are really going to help people see what they're able to do with a tropical banyan tree. I

            The trees look fine, they're healthy. The only damage incurred from the trip was a couple leaves falling off and on, not Ahmed's tree but the other one, what was it, 8LS8? That one had two aerial roots near the edge snap. Other than that the trees as you can see in the pictures, are green and healthy, a little bent up but they'll settle I'm sure.

            I'm excited for the workshop, I've got it scheduled for this Saturday with a pre workshop for the people helping out during it. Until then the trees will be in the flat. Thank you again, I'm so excited!     - - - Burton

            NOTE FROM DAVID.  It's been quite a few years since we've shipped internationally but since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,  security has greatly increased and international shipping is now much more difficult! 

            Now it is necessary to have various clearances and becoming a known air freight shipper as the air freight company is responsible to assure parcels are as specified with very close attention to assure all documentation is totally accurate.  USDA was extremely thorough in following the requirements of the Kingdom of Bahrain's import requirement and would not move until all requirements were clear and the pre-treatments met all of their requirements. 

               Years ago the average transit time was a week to ten days! Mahalo to the many who made this possible:  USDA-APHIS,  Hawaii Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine and Pesticide sections,  UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources,  USDA Agriculture Research Station,  the Kingdom of Bahrain, and most of all Commodity Forwarders, Inc. Burton's enthusiasm and energy made it a nice challenge and I'm delighted that total transit time was only five days.

           A total of 48 of the new Premium Introductory Workshop Packages were sent and the workshop was held on Saturday, October 12, 2013. Burton's report and photos will be formatted and included in the November 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai. GREAT WORK!  CONGRATULATIONS BURTON!     


   ***  Go to the August 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
   ***  Go to the September 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
   ***  Go to the October 2013 issue of the Journal of Tropical and True Indoor Bonsai
   ***  Go to the Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation website
   ***  Go to the Fuku-Bonsai website
             Mid-Pacific Bonsai Foundation and Fuku-Bonsai, 2013