Press Release on Agriculture Transformation tour to Ten Dzongkhags

The Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest (MoAF) accompanied by officials from  Policy and Planning Division (PPD), Regional Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives (RAMCO), Regional Research Centers and Projects completed a visit to ten Dzongkhag between 4th to 20th October 2019. The Dzongkhags covered were Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang, Zhemgang in the central south region and the six eastern Dzongkhags. In between the 10 Dzongkhags visit, the Minister also attended World Food Day celebration at Sakteng School on 16th October 2019.

The main purpose of the visit to the Dzongkhags was to sensitize on government’s initiative on Agriculture Transformation from subsistence farming to commercial farming. While market assurance with post harvest management and value chain process is found crucial to encourage mass scale production by the famers, backed up by Farm Mechanization Corporation Limited (FMCL) and Bhutan Livestock Corporation Limited (BLDCL), internalizing the market prior to export, has as well, been important and urgent. The Ministry, in this line, initiated two supplementing programmes of School and Hospital Feeding Program (SHFP) and a Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) Enterprise Development opportunities. This Agricultural Transformation beginning with SHFP and RNR-ED is expected to acquire food self sufficiency and nutrition security in a focused approach, open up opportunities of youth employment and generate revenue through high-end exports.

Meeting with the Dzongkhag Sector Heads, Gewog and School authorities having feeding programme, the tour outcome was successful in sharing information and discussing both foreseeable challenges and opportunities. Government Executive Order giving preferential opportunity to procure local produces by Schools, Hospitals and all government institutions in their public procurement of food resources has intimated opportunities to connect Farmers, Farmers Groups and Cooperatives to Schools and Hospitals. Government’s initiative to increase school stipend in accordance to the guidance of the Ministry of Health on minimum nutritional standard needs of the students, cold storage set up in 10 strategic locations to facilitate preservation and re-distribution of the food resources, Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Bank for RNR Enterprise Development opportunities were highly appreciated by the local government leaders and the school and hospital authorities. School Agriculture Programme requested for Greenhouse facilities and seed distribution to boost their initiative in educating students in agriculture practices and supplementing food resources to their schools. Schools/Hospitals and LGs were encouraged to negotiate the commodity price and establish Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and avail services of the RNR Regional and Dzongkhag sectors in the negotiations, if necessary. The LG leaders have been requested to identify commercial farming land, potential commodities for commercial farming and potential value chain enterprises in the Dzongkhag and in the region. Dzongkhag and Gewog RNR Sectors have been reminded to review and streamline their APA and guided that the annual performance evaluation of the officials will be based on the success of the SHFP and the RNR-ED progress.

How Agriculture Transformation will prepare the country towards graduation from LDC in 2023, adaptation to climate change and valuing Ngultrum currency for the economy of the nation has been shared as an additional awareness.

In course of the travel, the Minister met with Forestry Officials of Territorial Divisions and Park Management, reminding them to be service oriented, in team spirit and improving their networking availing the modern IT technologies. Minister encouraged all Divisions and Park Services to establish WeChat or WhatsApp groups, to include Minister, Secretary and Department Director in the group, to discuss issues instantly, take timely consensus decisions and make services more effective while reducing paper works.

-MoAF

 

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