The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has made significant progress in its various sectors and programs.
The PM’s state of the nation report shows that the overall cereal basket is currently 71% with the total estimated production of all cereals at 143,851 MT, therefore, the target of the 10FYP of achieving 150,000 MT is very close. Under this sector, five dzongkhags had been targeted to enhance rice production, namely Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Punakha, and Wangdue, and Sarpang, of which there has been an increase in productivity by 30% meaning an increase from 2.64 MT to 3.38 MT in a year.
On the horticulture export, the report shows that the export had increased in 2010, which was Nu 938.89mn thus exceeding the target.
The top earners was Oranges that brought in a neat revenue of Nu 332.32mn, cardamom (Nu 222.20mn), potato (Nu 197.54mn), and Apple (Nu 116.90mn).
Under the diversification and commercialization of agriculture, eight products were initially identified under it. The other seven initiatives have already been implemented with four more in the pipeline.
The seven initiatives include the Mountain Hazelnut Venture Ltd. where a total of 934 acres of hazelnut trees have been planted out of the 3000 registered with 917 participating farmers.
This plantation is targeted to plant 10mn hazelnuts trees on 25,000 acres land in five years time to create over 200 direct full-time jobs.
The second initiative is the coffee plantation where an agro-processing plant will be established to employ about 75 to 150 people.
The next initiative is the Samcholing Green Tree at Trongsa, a 20 acre green tea plantation.
The fourth initiative is the Tata Chemicals Ltd (TCL), which brought 30 MT of seed potato of ‘Kufri Jyoti’ variety in November last year at a negotiated price of Nu 19 per kg. The requirement for this year is over 300 MT and is expected to increase over the years.
The PM in his report said Bhutan Alpine Seeds, a collaborator with the TCL has already started to produce 300 MT seed potato in the farmers’ field. The TCL has also expressed its interest to set up a Tata Kissan Sansar in line with Bhutan’s one stop farmers’ shop concept.
Another initiative is the Anubhav Bio-Tech Pvt. Ltd, based on the successful trials, Stevia cultivation (stevioside, a sugar substitute) will be taken up for large scale plantations in farmer’s field.
The next initiative, the Adani Agrifresh Ltd. (Indian Oil Company) initial discussions have begun with this company who are interested in large-scale apple production.
The seventh initiative is the oil seeds, a recently signed venture that supports sunflower cultivation and processing of edible oil by the domestic firm, Jigme Trading. The aim here is to reduce vegetable oil imports, this initiative is said to be the second highest imported food commodity.
A feasibility study related to organic agriculture, crafts, and community tourism efforts has been undertaken in association with Fabindia Overseas Pvt. Ltd.
In order to contain the citrus greening disease ‘Huanglongbing’ measures like disease free seedlings are being raised, orchard demonstration are being showcased on effective practices in major citrus growing dzongkhags.
A national citrus nursery cum storehouse has been established in Tsirang, and an action plan on ‘Huanglongbing’ developed, in order to revive the cardamom industry. A cardamom disease-free capsules has been distributed to nursery operators in Samtse and Haa.
Ginger seeds have been supplied along with the provision of fungicides to help farmers fight against incidences of rhizome rot and wilts.Vegetable productions have increased nearly by six fold over the past decade; the report states only 60% of the national needs are being met currently.
The PM stated, a total national production must reach 54,445 MT per year for self-sufficency. With the ongoing INR crunch, more works toward self-sufficiency has been pushed at an accelerated pace, and for which the budget of Nu 32mn has been allocated for 2012-2013.
In order to substitute imports, 13 vegetables have been selected for the production-plan to substitute imports, and over 60 groups and cooperatives will be strengthened and linked to big institutions and projects markets.
Current efforts include enhancing links to large scale consumers like armed forces, schools, hydroelectric projects, and markets like the Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu; these include linking consumer group with vegetable growers’ group.
Two schools in Bumthang and Gyalpoizhing have been linked with farmers groups for vegetables as a pilot project
Under the linking of Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) vendors with local producers, the CFM alone trades in about 10,000 MT of local and imported vegetables annually. From this, about 5000 MT was imported for the CFM during the lean season between November-April.
Therefore, a vegetable production plan for all potentials gewogs of Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Chukha, Samtse, and Sarpang has been developed to meet the CFM’s demand.
The new production-plan will produce about 15,000 MT of summer and 14,000 MT of winter vegetables. The six dzongkhags namely Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Chukha, Samtse and Sarpang will be involved in this.
To meet these demands, about 692 acres of land is to be brought under vegetable cultivation with a total production of 2,221 MT.
The Market Access and Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP) will develop linkages of local producers with the hydropower project, schools and institutes in six eastern dzongkhags.
A production of over 1,928 MT of vegetables during summer is expected from this scheme.
For the enhancement of access to agricultural services, the One Stop Farmers Shop (OSFS) is piloted and as of April 2012, six OSFS are established with another 11 planned in the next phase of implementation.
On the organic farming front, a total of 2,043 acres of cultivated land is under organic management, this includes the organic farmers’ group comprising of 881 farmers.
The major agricultural products targeted for organic cultivation are potatoes, vegetables, turmeric, rice, fruits, asparagus, and buckwheat.
On farm mechanism to make life easier, the Agriculture Machinery Centre has recently produced and distributed a range of energy saving farm equipment including milk churners, power and pedal threshers, saw dust compacting machines for mushroom production, power tillers, and trailers, de-husking machines, and other implements.
On the farm roads front, 2215km of farm roads have been completed against the ambitious target of 3388km, for the 10FYP, and the constructions of 673 km is currently underway, some are on the verge of completion.
The Roadside Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) sales counter at Gongola, Mongar, and Toep gewog, Punakha, and vegetable and mushroom collection shed at Genekha, and organic sales counter at Bumthang have been set up.
The PM stated that the livestock productions had improved by almost three fold, thus exceeding the target. These productions have been generated through milk by Nu 1,286mn, followed by eggs with a value by Nu 196mn.
For the enhancement of dairy development, 112 dairy farmers’ groups have been formed and 33 Milk Processing Units and 45 Milk Centers have been established till last year.
The current milk production from the dairy groups and individual farmers stands at 28,579 MT against the 10FYP target of 7,897 MT by 2013, which is 361% achievement above the set target.
The current production meets 69% of the domestic demand, 86% of butter, and 79% of cheese, resulting in decreased import of fresh milk by 15%. Under the Accelerating Bhutan Socio-Economic Development initiative for diary development, eight western dzongkhags achieved the targeted goal of 100 MT per month.
In regard to poultry development, the report shows that there are more than 1,030 poultry farms in the country today, and the current production is 22mn eggs worth Nu 219mn and 119 MT of chicken per year.
Other livestock initiatives include diversification of livestock farming with the introduction of Chevon goat production (the demand has boosted the existing goat farming) buffalos, and fish farming.
On fish farming, a significant amount of fish production is expected to have been achieved with Harachhu Capture Fisheries Management Group, which was initiated in back in 2010, but, another capture fishery, the Berti Capture Fisheries Group was initiated along the same lines in March 2012.
Increased-land under improved pasture stands at 3822 acres against the 10FYP target of 4637 acres in 2013, the government land of 210 acres have been leased out to members of farmer’s groups and developed into pasture.
On the community forest front, the first half of 2012 saw 73 community forests established in addition to the 65 community forests established in 2011.
To meet the local needs for timber and other forest products, the community forest management groups has a cash balance of over Nu 10mn.
The Endowment Fund for Human-Wildlife Conflict was launched in April 2011 with seed money of Nu 1mn. The fund has now reached Nu 4mn.
The G2C initiatives on process leaning on forest produce and RNR service delivery has shortened turnaround time for all forest services by at least 60%.
The Cooperatives Rules and Regulations of Bhutan 2010 and the guidelines for registration of Farmer’s Groups (FG), and Primary Cooperatives was finalized by the agriculture ministry in July 2010.