As figures go, the top agricultural product imported in the country is livestock and meat. Bhutan imported 2000 metric tons of pork in 2012, enough to feed each citizen with about two pigs weighing 70 kilograms. Less beef was imported as compared to the pork quantity.
The Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Dorji, in the seventh meet-the-press conference shared that vigorous initiatives are being carried out to increase agriculture and livestock production in the country.
This falls in line with agriculture commercialization to enhance the agriculture and diary production to meet the domestic demand and a step towards self-reliance.
In terms of cooking oil, Lyonpo said that Bhutan is 6% self-sufficient, and Bhutan imports huge quantity of oil used for lamp offering.
In rice import front, Bhutan is semi-sufficient as of 2012 and imports little less than 50%.
According to the Agriculture Minister, the ministry is consistently coming up with better plans to up scale rice production as rice is the main staple food of the people.
He added that with effect from this year more than 2,000 hectares of land in places like, Samrang, Bangtar, Mongar and Samtse will be under rice cultivation project. In addition, the ministry has already assured irrigation facilities and this is expected to increase the rice production by almost 20%.
Apart from encouraging paddy cultivation, the agriculture ministry has started buying paddy from India to be milled in the mills installed in the country. Such methods of buying paddy at lesser price instead of the milled rice can bring down the escalating expenses.
When it comes to diary and livestock, Lyonpo said that agriculture ministry is coming up with production centers like mega farms and national meat and dairy farms and agriculture communities.
Ministry of Agriculture is under the process of establishing milk processing unit, turkey farming, piggery, fishery and mutton production. “We are in the process of establishing around 200 units of cattle farm in Chamgang in Thimphu,” Lyonpo added.
According to 2012 report on milk sufficiency in the country, it claims to have achieved about 90% sufficiency, but Lyonpo said that it is contradicting figure, as Bhutan still imports packaged cheese, diary milk drinks like Ammul Cool and Taaza, etc.
Lyonpo also shared that the ministry is providing free layers of birds to the farmers and boarding schools as Bhutan is now self-sufficient of eggs, this he said is also the initiatives of the agriculture ministry to provide quality diet to the student.
Such initiatives have kick started from Lhuentse, being the top poverty stricken dzongkhag, and if such initiatives prove to be a success, the next targeted dzongkhags would be in Zhemgang and Pemagatsel.