Providing a power tiller in every chiwog in Bhutan is not possible within one year, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Dorji, said while responding to a question from the Member of Parliament, Radhi Sakteng, on power tillers reaching all the chiwogs, and about management and maintenance service of power tillers, in National Assembly on May 21.
Agriculture and Forests Minister,Yeshey Dorji, said the government, as pledged, has started working on the supply of a power tiller each in all 1044 chiwogs (sub-block).
The government has supplied power tillers in 70 gewogs of six eastern dzongkhags in January this year and to northern and southern dzongkhags as well. “We want to take it to (205) gewogs and then to the chiwogs,” he said.
Agriculture and Forests Minister informed the House that there is no need to raise concerns over the supply of power tillers as the government has very good relationship with Japanese government. He said last year in discussion between the Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and the Japanese PM, the Japan government has committed to provide 1450 power tillers.
“All work are in progress, firstly Japanese Parliament has to discuss and pass, then the power tillers will be supplied from the financial year 2016-2017,” the Agriculture and Forests Minister said.
He said that the Japanese government used to supply power tiller through KR-II grant, but now the chiwog grant will help in the chiwog development. In line to the assistance, he also said other countries and organizations have also committed to help supply the power tillers.
Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji informed the House that as of now power tillers are being supplied to the geowgs, but that does not imply that there would be no power tillers for chiwogs. Besides, he said, people in the chiwogs can also use the power tillers from gewogs. In addition, he said that the power tillers and tractors services are provided within the region.
Citing as an example, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said Bondey in Paro has 43 power tillers, and out of it, 30 power tillers provide services, whenever needed, in Paro, Thimphu, Samtse and Haa.
Similarly, Bajo with five tractors and 55 power tillers and Samtenling in Bhur with 29 tractors and 36 power tillers provide services to Wangduephodrang, Gasa, Punakha and Trongsa. Similarly, in eastern dzongkhag, Khangma with 12 tractors and 53 power tillers provides the services.
“Even if government fulfills in supplying power tillers in each chiwogs, then also the power tillers would not be sufficient since in some places a chiwog needs more than one power tiller,” the Minister said.
On the operating front, he said there are three agriculture officers in each gewogs who hire out the power tillers at a low price at Nu 1400 including fuel and service charge.
Khamdang-Ramjar MP, Sonam Dondup Dorjee, raised concerns that farmers in eastern villages, being situated in mostly mountainous terrain, would find it difficult to use power tiller, and instead, he suggested, that smaller tillers would be more beneficial to the people.
Opposition Leader (OL), Dr Pema Gyamtsho also said that it is possible to distribute power tillers to each chiwog, but it could need replacement in future, and therefore, asked whether the government will ask Japan Government or Indian Government for support.
OL said the government is moving backward instead of moving forward since hiring services practices already exist in the past. He expressed that the supply of power tillers in gewogs and dzongkhags existed since 1980, and when people were able to purchase it, government handed it over to them. He said again when the government provides freely, the goal to self-sufficiency is not achievable.
MP, Panbang, Dorji Wangdi, also said that government has supplied only 205 power tillers and are still 839 power tillers left to be supplied. In response, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that the Japanese government has been supporting the supply of power tillers since 1984 and about 3000 has been supplied as of now.