May 17, Wangdue. The Minister of Agriculture and Forests Lyonpo Yeshi Dorji inaugurated the First ever Farm Shop in the country with the second Gewog Banking Services in Sephu Gewog, Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag.
About 70% of our population is dependent on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. Considering its importance, the Royal Government has been making concerted efforts in supporting the sector in all the development plans. Despite many program interventions, the farming communities are constrained by lack of access to quality and reliable farm inputs, poor infrastructure and market access for their farm produce and acute shortage of farm labour. To address these issues, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest has come up with a noble approach “Farm Shop/Sanam Tshongkhang”, a semi business venture for greater social cause, which will be established in all the Gewogs. The vendor-ship for the operations of the Farm Shop is currently given to the Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCB). The three important functions of the Farm shop are:
- Buy Back Guarantee under which farmers are given guaranteed market outlet for their local RNR produce;
- Retail farm inputs and farm machinery hiring services and
- Retail basic food and other essential items.
In the ease of doing business in Bhutan, access to credit has always been emphasized as the number one challenge. Towards this direction and as part of financial inclusion policy of the Royal Government, the Bhutan Development Bank Ltd (BDB) will provide Gewog Banking Service in the Community Centres across the country. The Gewog Banking Service is a technology driven banking service that the Bank will provide from the field on a real time basis without the customer having to go to the Dzongkhag head quarter in person. In the first phase of the service the Bank will provide services such as cash deposits, loan repayments, withdrawals, balance inquiry, fund transfers, remittance, mobile phone top ups (B wallet) and in next phase it will provide utility bills payments service.
It is envisaged that the start of these two important public services from one location will go a long way in alleviating rural poverty, improving their livelihood and finally a transformed and empowered rural community.
-Reported by DAMC , photo by Choidup Zangpo ICS
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