All five agriculture related pledges within 120 days are not fulfilled

As the government completed120 days in power, the government during the recent meet the press informed that out of the five pledges on agriculture, it has achieved two and three are on track.

The government informed the press that the government’s pledge on the establishment of water agency, stray dog issues and manage waste and Sonam Gongphel project are on track and it has achieved its pledge on Samrang project and insurance scheme.

However, the reality is quite different from the claims as all five pledges have not been fulfilled.

The government claimed that its pledge on the establishment of a dedicated water agency with the plan of action to ensure water supply for 24 hours in a day for both drinking and irrigation by 2021 is on track.

Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjore said, “The government has approved a flagship program to address issues related to water and it has also established a committee to review and amend the water act of Bhutan.”

Lyonpo said, “The apex body or authority in the country to look after the water issue is the National Environment Commission (NEC) but we are looking and studying whether NEC should still remain as the highest authority or should we have an independent water agency.”

However, the pledge does not say that the government will work or study on whether the government needs an independent water agency or not but it clearly says it will establish a water agency with a plan of action”.

“Even with the establishment of water agency, we are not confident enough to assure that we can provide water for 24 hours in a day by 2021”, Lyonpo added.

The government also said that its pledge on starting a project to address stray dog problem and manage waste more efficiently is on track but not much has been done to address the issue.

Agriculture Minister said, “There are already few projects initiated to address the street dog issues in the country like vaccination and population control”.

However, projects like vaccination and sterilization and studies on the population of stray dogs and how to reduce diseases related to dogs were there even before DNT formed the government and it was initiated during the previous government, according to an official from the Livestock department.

The project to address street dog and manage waste more efficiently will be done by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The government pledged to initiate Sonam Gongphel project where the government will buy farmer’s produce and review and revise the functions of farm shops. The government said that the pledge is on track.

Though the government said that it has initiated the project and started reviewing and revising the function of farm shops, not much has been done.

Agriculture Minister said, “There are many farm shops in the gewogs and these farm shops are being used for other purposes. The government will make sure that the farm shops are used only for selling of farm produces”.

The government has said that it has achieved its pledge on converting Samrang project into the mega vegetable farm and setting up of insurance scheme but it has not achieved both the pledges.

The first pledge which is converting of Samrang project is not correct. The government after realizing that the Samrang project is not a meat processing unit removed the pledge from its manifesto because the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) told them to do so.

Lyonpo said, “The government’s pledge to convert Samrang project into the vegetable farm is not necessary but vegetable farming is being taken up by Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL) in Phuntshothang in Samdrup Jongkhar”.

The government has said that it has set up an insurance scheme for farmers to protect their crop but apart from the insurance scheme that is already there, no new insurance scheme has been set up so far.

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