Agriculture Minister tours country to ensure food supply

Agriculture Stimulus Plan of Nu 160 million budget framed for three months

The Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor visited 18 dzongkhags in the country amid COVID-19 to ensure there is enough food supply.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the primary purpose of the visits was to ensure that the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) is stocking up on the necessary food items in the dzongkhags. The other reason was to meet with the Local Government (LG) authorities to prioritize food production activities for the next fiscal year, and to see the potential of establishing marketing facilities.

“The ministry, at center, can frame a policy, make national plans then mobilize resources for it, but the implementation has to be done by the Local Government,” said the minister.

Lyonpo said he observed many fallow lands being turned into productive farmlands and kitchen gardens in various dzongkhags.

“Very encouragingly the FCBL food stocking is there as planned, and also I observed that lots of the fallow lands being revived and lots of kitchen gardening is going around even in the urban areas, like Thimphu. We are seeing more and more of digging of backyards for kitchen gardening,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said the ministry is waiting for proposals from LG to develop or implement the activities. There is a lack of market information and connectivity, and therefore, a team was formed to carry out ‘vegetables on wheels’, the first-ever vegetable delivery business conceived by the vegetable management committee and launched on Thursday.

The team is working on forming links with all the dzongkhag agriculture extension officers. The IT facility is also making is simpler to share information amongst them. The team also has appointed focal persons in all vegetable markets across the country. The focal persons will alert the team if the market is running short of resources in their area. The team will then transport the resources to the particular place.

“The producers do not know where to take their farm produce and the markets do not know where the producers are coming up, so basically the (farm) produce land up rotting. So that’s where we keep importing vegetables,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo added that an Agriculture Stimulus Plan worth Nu 160 million for three-month was proposed by the ministry to the Cabinet. Although the Cabinet approved the proposal, the minister said the amount in the budget is not finalized, and the Ministry of Finance has yet to release the budget.

“The stimulus plan for year 2021, and for the 12th Five Year plan which we have some front loading part, for that we will have to wait for the Parliament to adopt it. And so just now whatever is proposed by the ministry, we cannot expect everything to be approved. It might come with the additional or deduction from what we have proposed. Everything has to be rooted through the Cabinet, and it will go through the Parliament, and unless the Parliament approves it, it will not become official figures,” Lyonpo added.

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