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Bhutan’s political parties unveil plans for rural development

Bhutan’s political parties have outlined comprehensive strategies for the often-neglected rural communities.

DPT

Under the banner of “Improving Farm Roads: The Lifeline of Rural Areas,” DPT has made a commitment to enhance farm road networks, ensuring connectivity of remote rural areas to markets and service centers. Their plan includes upgrading existing farm roads, blacktopping major Chiwog roads, and investing in essential farm road infrastructure such as bridges, channels, drains, and walls. The party also emphasizes the importance of handing over the maintenance of GC roads to the Department of Surface Transport and instituting mechanisms to monitor rural road connectivity throughout the year.

In addressing water concerns, the party pledges to provide sufficient clean drinking and irrigation water to all citizens.

PDP

As per the PDP theme “Rural Development – Powering Our Village,” the party is committed to ensuring every household has access to safe drinking water 24/7 and farmlands have adequate irrigation water. Their roadmap includes base course/stone soling for all farm roads, blacktopping roads to major Chiwogs, and maintaining Gewog Center Roads with proper drainage facilities. The responsibility for road maintenance at the Gewog level will be entrusted to the Department of Surface Transport. PDP also pledges to construct new farm roads as needed.

PDP will facilitate the use of government land for large-scale agricultural ventures to interested private sector and farmers. Allow conversion of wetland to alternative land usage and farming practices that offer greater viability and sustainability. Reserve minimum acreage of wetland for paddy cultivation for which government will provide special support.

It will establish special interest free loan facilities to purchase power tillers and other farm machineries.

PDP will set up a Nu. 20 million processing or production facility in 50 strategic locations which will facilitate grading, sorting, processing, packaging and marketing.

It will institute a buy-back scheme through farm shops in which the government will actively facilitate the creation of markets and provide support for the purchase of strategic crops and produce. 2.4 Support setting up of fertilizer plants and setting up of animal feeds plants to ensure adequacy and fair price of the feed.

It will provide free seedlings. And Stop the levy of tax on small farmers on their sale of agricultural and livestock produce.

BTP

BTP’s approach encompasses the construction of climate-resilient water and sanitation systems, upgrading highways, and enhancing dzongkhag roads.

Recognizing the critical issue of human-wildlife conflict, BTP pledges to address this concern through the provision of electric and chain-link fencing at strategic locations. The party also commits to exploring alternative measures in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Funding for these initiatives will primarily be sought through grants from environment and conservation sources, emphasizing the party’s commitment to enhancing food security.

BTP emphasizes the importance of farm roads, clean and safe drinking water.

DTT

DTT, after extensive consultations with the public, has outlined three flagship programs focusing on all-weather farm roads, improved access to water, and the minimization of human-wildlife conflicts. The party’s pledges emphasize the use of domestic resources for infrastructure projects, incorporating the Project Economy concept and modular designs. Key initiatives include the construction of all-weather farm roads and developing cargo ropeways and introduction of light monorails in rural areas.

DTT plans to allocate budget for various projects, such as Nu 5 billion for all-weather farm roads.

Addressing the issue of human-wildlife conflict, DTT plans to explore cost-effective alternatives to chain-link fencing and employ non-fatal methods. The party emphasizes the use of local resources, modular designs, and the Project Economy concept for these initiatives.

DNT

On the other hand, DNT places a significant focus on harnessing water security, acknowledging Bhutan’s abundant freshwater resources, but recognizing the challenges posed by seasonal domestic water shortages.

DNT’s commitments include strengthening the Department of Water, revising and implementing the National Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, coordinating with relevant agencies to address wetland issues, and utilizing technology for water resource forecasting and monitoring.

In agriculture development, DNT aims to contribute to GDP growth by focusing on high-value agriculture and livestock production, enhancing farm roads with gravel sub-base (GSB), providing adequate irrigation water, installing chain-linked fencing, and supporting the establishment of agriculture marketing centers.

The party also pledges to explore economic opportunities from the rich forest resources, ensure water security for agriculture, build cold storages and warehouses, and encourage the manufacturing of chain-linked fencing within the country.

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