At the midterm review of the agriculture ministry’s Annual Performance Agreement (APA) for 2017-18 this week in Thimphu, the agriculture secretary petitioned the government to reduce targets for farm shops, fish production and budget utilization.
Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji said the target for farm shops be reduced from 58 to 44 and fish production from 70 metric tonnes (MT) to 36MT. Trout production target was reduced to 20 MT from 40 MT as the ministry was unable to acquire the two-acre private land needed to expand the freshwater fishery centre in Haa.
The agriculture ministry also asked to reconsider three of the 37 targets they signed with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, which were at risk of failure.
Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji reported that consultation with the dzongkhags revealed that there is no need to establish farm shops in 14 gewogs identified earlier based on the one-farm shop a gewog policy. “Many of these gewogs have access to services from the existing Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) outlets or the gewogs fall within the municipality or town area, where services can be easily availed,” he said. “People didn’t want them.” He added that there are two shops in some gewogs.
The gewogs are Thedtsho and Gangtey in Wangdue, Choekhor in Bumthang, Dewathang in Samdrupjongkhar, Bjabcho in Chukha, Tsendagang in Dagana, Chang in Thimphu, Kilkhorthang, Tsholingkhar, and Rangthangling in Tsirang, and Hungrel, Wangchang, and Luni gewogs in Paro, and Katshog in Haa.
Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that despite the reduction in farm shops, the country would still have 212 shops at the end of the 11th Plan.
Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji said that Community-based capture fishery (CBF) is a new concept in the country and as it requires the involvement of many stakeholders only four of the seven targeted fisheries could be established. He added that the production from CBF has to be lowered to 16MT instead of 30MT.
The ministry has installed 4,500 biogas plants in the country exceeding the target of 4,400 plants. To increase food crops and livestock production the targets include biogas plants, honey production, yak population, and Chevon production.
The country produced 48MT of honey and 194MT of Chevon against the target of 41MT and 150MT respectively. The country has 41,528 yaks today over the target of 40,100.
The ministry had met four targets to promote sustainable management and conservation of natural resources. Assessment of wetland was completed in November 2017 above the Takin Preserve in Thimphu where 1,431 doses of animal germplasm, 111 living plants and 65 crop germplasm were collected. The ministry added 43 new community forests, against a target of 30 in 2017-18, taking the total to 750 in the country.
Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji raised concerns on mandatory success indicator of having to train half of the non-information and communication technology staff. “We have a huge staff and to train them all would incur huge costs and needs more time,” he said.
Rinzin Dorji said that there is a need to assess the impact and requirement for mandatory success indicators (SI) before assigning SIs for all agencies. “We suggest that agency-specific mandatory success indicators be assigned instead of same mandatory success indicators for all agencies,” he said.
The secretary said that there are incidences of natural calamities and disease outbreaks that affect the APA target, particularly production targets. For instance, around 3,815MT of potato was reported damaged by the late blight in three major potato-growing areas in Chukha, Haa and Bumthang.
Rinzin Dorji said that Foot and Mouth disease outbreaks in Paro would affect milk or dairy production. Therefore, APA rating in such circumstances needs to be considered by the National Technical Committee.
The ministry also proposed to revise the target category for percent of budget utilised. At present, the rating is excellent for 100 percent utilization and poor for the rest. Of the ministry’s revised budget of Nu 3,801M, it had so far spent Nu 1,353M or 35.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the ministry submitted the first draft of the ministry’s 12th Plan to the Gross National Happiness Commission last year.