The Ministry of Agriculture and Forest has made progress in its various sectors and programs. The 10th Five Year Plan’s (FYP) policy and objective for the agriculture sector was to transform the traditional subsistence farming practices to produce beyond household needs, for sale both to domestic markets and for export and promote Bhutan as an organic brand.
The PM’s state of the nation report presented to parliament by Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley on Monday shows that the overall cereal basket has been enhanced from 2.64MT/ha in 2009 to 3.38 MT/ha in the targeted dzongkhags for a 28% productivity gain.
Five dzongkhags, namely Sarpang, Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, Wangduephodrang and Punakha has been supported to enhance rice production with the Accelerating Bhutan’s Socio-economic Development (ABSD) initiative.
10,187.75 acres have been brought under the ABSD program and were supported through intervention of farm mechanization, supply of higher yielding varieties of seeds, farmer to farmer seeds exchange activity and soil fertilizer management.
Rice commercialization operated by Chuzergang Agriculture Farmers Cooperatives (CAFCO) is succeeding. According to the annual RNR report CAFCO earned more than 1.2 million with the sale of milled rice. 523 MT of seeds for cereal, vegetables, potato, oil seeds and pulses was produced and supplied to the farmers which generated revenue of Nu.16, 424,879.50 and likewise a total of 3,46,617 numbers of temperate and subtropical seedlings were supplied to the farmers generating revenue of Nu.8,789,188.
In addition 368,900 asparagus plants and 378.08 MT of seed potatoes were produced and supplied to the farmers.
On horticulture export, the report shows that the export amount of Nu 1,101.7mn in 2011 had exceeded the 10 FYP target of Nu 900mn by the end of the current plan. The horticulture production in the past year was 99,441 MT with a total value of Nu 719.59 million.
The productivity of potato saw an increase of 4.3 Tonne per acre against a target of 1 Tonne.
The top earners were Oranges that brought in a revenue of Nu 332.32mn, cardamom Nu 222.20mn, potato Nu 197.54mn, and Apple Nu 116.90mn.
In the back drop of INR crisis the ministry encouraged vegetable production within the country to reduce the import of vegetables from the border areas thus reducing the outflow of rupee. About 8,815 acres were brought under vegetable production with production of 10,394 MT against a target of 6,000 MT.
More than 23 vegetable growers group from Punakha, Tsirang and Wangdue have taken up large scale cultivation to meet the demand of Punatsangchu Hydro Electric Project-I (PHEP-I) and with an objective to enhance off-season vegetable production, protected vegetable cultivation technology is being promoted in mid and high altitude areas.
The government has also facilitated signing of deals between local farmers and 11 schools and other institutions.
With the ongoing INR crunch, more works towards self sufficiency has been pushed at an accelerated pace, and for which the budget of Nu 32mn had been allocated for 2012-2013.
The PM stated that the livestock production had improved by almost three fold, exceeding the target.
On dairy production front the 28,579MT milk in 2011 has exceeded the 10 FYP targeted of 7,897 MT by 261%. The current production meets 69% of the domestic demand for milk, 86% of butter and 79% of cheese.
The report stated that the increased production has greatly improved the nutritional intake in villages, with village children now drinking milk along with a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.
According to the RNR report the total population of improved cattle breed has reached 69,654 heads with an increase of around 9,200 heads, improved poultry population has notably increased to 273,557 with an increase of 220,666 since the beginning of the 10th FYP.
This increase has been possible because of breed management by the Department.
The start of the Artifical Insemination technology has resulted in significant improvement in the livestock breed. The past year has seen the establishments of 2 new AI centers. To preserve traditional livestock species and to generate income for the highlanders about 150 farmers have also been trained in meat, milk processing and improved packaging. To improve animal health services, 30 animal health workers in the high lands were trained across the high lands. The highlanders were also supplied 100 energy efficient equipments and 200 solar lights both portable and fixed to increase and save time for productive activities.
Four dzongkhags have been covered under the Contract Breeding Bull Program where 110 improved Breeding bulls have also been procured, produced and supplied.
The PM stated that egg production was 23mn in 2011 which contributes an estimated Nu 224mn to the national GDP. The import of eggs dropped from six million in 2010 to two million in 2011 increasing the national egg sufficiency level to about 86%. Tsirang has already declared 100% self sufficiency in egg production.
Under the organic farming initiative, the report stated that 2,069 acres of farmland have been brought under natural production of cereals, vegetables, spices and medicinal plants, a 58% increase since 2009 alone. 41 organic groups have formed and various trainings on organic farming have been conducted for the members.
On the farm road front about 3,289.8 kms of farm road have been completed in the last five years against the ambitious target of 3,388kms for the 10th FYP which amounts to a 97% achievements till date.
The Irrigation and Water Management Initiatives has so far benefited 3,017 rural households covering 9,489 acres of agriculture land. Till date the 74.7kms of irrigation canals have been renovated or constructed.
To meet the local needs for timber and other forest product the commercial timber production has increased from 1.7mn cubic feet in 2008 to 2.5 cubic feet in 2012.
The expansion of economically viable Non Wood Forest Product species has been contributing to poverty alleviation, which is the central theme for the 10 FYP.
The cooperatives Rules and Regulations of Bhutan and the guidelines for registration of Farmer’s Group (FG) and Primary Cooperatives were finalized by the agriculture ministry in July 2010.
There are presently 268 registered Farmer’s Groups and Cooperatives nationwide and additional 740 non-registered but functional Farmer’s Groups.
These cooperatives have boosted agriculture trade both within and outside the country. In the year 2012- 2013 Bhutan exported 58,202 MT of primary agricultural products and generated Nu1,293 million.