April 16, Paro: The handing-taking ceremony of 239 power tillers worth approximately Ngultrum 65 million from the Government of Japan to the Royal Government of Bhutan received under the KR – II grant assistance was formally graced by His Excellence Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan and Mr. Kikuta Yutaka, the Hon’ble Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan, New Delhi, India.
The event saw the grant provided under food security project for the underprivileged farmers being formalised with signing of notes and exchange between Mr. Kikuta Yutaka and Mr. Karma Dorji, the Offtg. Agriculture Secretary.
Dasho Chencho Tshering, Paro Dzongda in his welcome speech highlighted that Bhutan has received KR-II grant assistance since 1984. Since then, people of Bhutan have received around 3186 power tillers. The Government earlier this year initiated the distribution of 70 power tillers to each geog under Lhuentse, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Pemagatshel, S/jongkhar and Trashigang. Similarly, Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay distributed 135 power tillers to each geogs of remaining 14 Dzongkhags of Bumthang, Chukha, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Punakha, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue and Zhemgang through the farm machinery hiring system. Under this system, all farmers in the geog will be able to hire power tillers at a nominal hiring charge of Nu. 1,400/- per day.
While addressing Dasho Dzongda and Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizins, Lyonchhoen said if we looked carefully, most geogs are deprived of power tillers. It was also pointed out that previously the Government had distributed it through the lottery system but the power tillers had failed to reach the needy farmers. But this pilot project will aim to provide a power tiller each to every chiwog in the geog by 2016. ‘We have other plans in line with, but first, this pilot project has to be a success’ with this Lyonchhoen persuaded Dasho Dzongda and Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizins representing 135 geogs to support and make careful use of the power tillers distributed.
Lyonchhoen further highlighted that ‘Farm machanisation has been instrumental in enabling Bhutanese farmers to increase their production of staple food crops mainly rice, wheat and maize.’ Farm machanisation had helped solve the issue of labour shortage and farm drudgery in rural areas. It was also highlighted that the utility of power tiller is further optimised with its additional use for transportation purposes by the farmers.
Lyonchhoen shared with the present audience that with the use of power tillers there has been 15 percent increase in the rice yield and that there was 48.8 percent reduction in the cost of production. His Excellence noted ‘These incremental gains would go a long way in enabling the Royal Government to increase food production in Bhutan and meet its goal of food security and to sustain overall economic growth.’
It was also highlighted that KR-II grant assistance enables the government to strengthen the agricultural sector and enhance its performance by uplifting the lives of more than half of Bhutan’s total population. Similarly, the Government of Japan hopes that this grant assistance would strengthen capacity of farmers and help mechanisation and modernisation of agriculture in Bhutan and also contribute to further strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.
His Excellence expressed the deep gratitude of the people and the Government of Bhutan to the people and Government of Japan for their continued support to Bhutan’s overall socioeconomic development. His Excellence particularly thanked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for his positive response to the request to provide 1450 power tillers to Bhutan during his visit to Japan in June-July 2014. He finally said ‘Bhutan on its part has deep admiration for the leadership role Japan is playing in promoting international peace and security through among others, its ODA programs.’
Also present in the event were the Agriculture Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Lyonpo D N Dhungyel, Minister for Ministry of Information and Communication; Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, Minister for Ministry of Labour and Human Resources; Lyonpo Jigme Zangpo, Hon’ble speaker, National assembly of Bhutan; Members of Parliament, Chief representative and officials of JICA Bhutan office, officials from Yanmar Company, Dasho Dzongdas and Dzongkhag Tshogdu Thrizins of 14 Dzongkhags along with senior officials. .
–Reported by Tashi Yangzom, ICS
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