Bhutan unveils Innovative Commodity Market Information System

24 June Thimphu, 2020: The Ministry of Agriculture and Forest (MoAF) along with the European Union (EU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) today unveiled a new online platform, Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), for Bhutanese agricultural producers. This online platform, developed with the financial support of the EU and technical expertise of ITC, will enhance the information flow related to the country’s agriculture products.

AMIS was officially launched today by His Excellency the Honourable Minister of  Agriculture and Forests, Mr. Yeshey Penjor, together with His Excellency the Honourable Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan, Mr. Ugo Astuto, through a virtual platform.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Agriculture said: “AMIS will directly support Bhutan’s development objectives as set-out in the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP), as well as in the FYP for the Renewable Natural Resources Sector, to enhance the sector’s marketing and value chain development, increase its contribution to the national economy, and improve and sustain livelihoods.”

The tool will benefit small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and farmers in Bhutan, providing them with real-time price information for agricultural commodities, empowering them to get better prices and enhance their living standards.

The Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan, Mr. Ugo Astuto, said: “AMIS is a powerful yet simple tool. It will connect farmers with market and buyers, thus supporting Bhutan’s efforts to boost domestic and international trade, while contributing to improved sustainability of rural incomes. Connecting the agricultural ecosystem across the country will not only ensure unified market information for agricultural products but also facilitate inclusive growth, in line with our overall support to Bhutan in the wake of the Covid crisis.”

Available on mobile devices, AMIS delivers market information right at the fingertips of Bhutanese producers in all Dzongkhags across the country, including the latest commodity and auction market prices from across the country. It is the first time such an online agriculture market price information system is made available to producers in Bhutan, which constitutes a unique and innovative leap forward for improved, inclusive and efficient agricultural market systems in the country.

“AMIS is a sustainable, powerful and inclusive solution in support of the agriculture sector in Bhutan” explains Mr. Ashish Shah, Director of Division of Country Programmes, and International Trade Centre (ITC).

AMIS was developed with strong institutional anchorage and ownership, through consultations with Bhutanese public and private sector representatives. Following several rounds of pilot testing, AMIS brings a comprehensive and responsive software that is close to the needs of its end-users across the country and the agriculture value chain.

Hosted by the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), the service is propelled by 29 fully coached and trained data collectors from the 20 Dzongkhags. Data is collected using tablets or smartphones weekly by the Agriculture Extension Officers based in Gewogs in partnership between DAMC and the Department of Agriculture (DoA).

In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, AMIS has already been successfully put to use, as a strategic source of information for MoAF to monitor and manage the unprecedented hike in the prices of various food products which impacted consumers and food security.

AMIS is available on AndroidTM mobile devices through a dedicated smartphone app on the Google Play Store and to all other devices, at https://amis.gov.bt

AMIS was developed with the financial support from the European Union under the framework of EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project, which is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) (https://www.facebook.com/EUBhutan.Trade.Support/).

During the 2014-2020 period, the overall EU support to Bhutan amounts to EUR 71.43 million, focusing on promoting sustainable development, local governance, rural development, supporting civil society organisations, trade as well as small and medium enterprises. As long term partners, the EU is also supporting Bhutan in its efforts to tackle Covid-19.

The EU has provided flexibility to the RGoB in the use of EUR 8.5 million released in March 2020 and is now working towards a subsequent release of EUR 9.7 in 2020 as advance payment which was due to be released in 2021. This has provided fiscal space for the RGoB to respond to COVID related activities.

Submitted by MoAF, EU and ITC

 

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