22 October, Thimphu: His Excellency (HE) Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Union Commissioner for Development with a team consisting of Mrs. Anda Piebalgs, HE Dr. Joao Cravinho, Ambassador of EU to Bhutan; Mr.Domenico Rosa, Member of Cabinet; Ms. Karine Olislagers, attache from the EU Cooperation of Delegation; Ms. Anna Becker, Desk officer for Bhutan and Nepal from European External Action Service; Mr. Ubaldo Lorenzini, Cooperation Officer for Bhutan and Nepal from the Development and Cooperation- EuropeAid called on Dasho Tenzin Dhendup, the Hon’ble Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF).
The delegation team expressed their enthusiasm to learn about the agriculture scenario of the country, Ministry’s role in helping the farmers, forest benefits to the people and the measures and mitigation activities taken by the Ministry for the natural calamities.
Responding, Dasho Secretary began his stand by stating “We wish to achieve self-sufficiency through self-reliance”. He added that considering the neighbouring country the biggest market, the Ministry is working towards producing enough and sell it in its peak season to cover up the requirements during lean season.
Dasho, further shared that the Ministry is striving towards maintaining its produce in its natural/organic state. Consequently, with the Ministry regulating the use of agriculture based fertilisers, Dasho asserted that “Chemical usage is our last resort” in fighting against any disease or pest.
The Ministry’s initiatives to help the rural farmers in marketing through the established Department of Agricultural and Marketing Cooperatives were also discussed. Dasho expressed his concern on the private entrepreneurs being skeptic due to perishable nature of agriculture produce and shortages of marketing facilities. The team was also informed on the establishment of community forest groups in the country where the forest is owned by the people instead of state giving them the rights to manage and carter the resources wisely.
On Mr. Andris Piebalgs query for the measures taken by the Ministry to combat the natural calamities, Dasho tinted the activities being carried out in the fields of forest fires and Glacial lakes outburst flood stating that the biggest step towards such mishap was the campaign and create awareness amongst the people from all walks of life.
HE Mr. Andris Piebalgs and his team in the country from 21- 26 October.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom and photo by Churamuni, ICS
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