4 – 7 October, 2019: Hon’ble Sanam Lyonpo and his team comprising of officials from Policy and Planning Division (PPD), Department of Agricultural Marketing & Cooperatives (DAMC), and Regional Agricultural Marketing & Cooperatives office (RAMCO) visited Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang and Zhemgang Dzongkhag . The main objective of the visit was to advocate on the importance of School and Hospital Feeding Program, a priority of the government to improve food and nutrition requirement for school children. The visit is also aimed to share views on the agriculture transformation to be initiated in the 12th FYP to increase food self-sufficiency. The visit is scheduled for ten Dzongkhags including Merak and Sakteng in the East.
Lyonpo met with different level of participants comprising of local government , school teachers , extension officers and regional agencies and expressed his views on the sustainable development and how import of food and food products shows the vulnerability of our future food supply. Lyonpo stressed the need for transformations in Agriculture system and also informed the meetings that School and Hospital Feeding Program is a market innovation, good news for the Farmers and entrepreneurs of Bhutan, which assured market for their produce to schools and hospital.
Lyonpo also shared on Bhutan LDC graduation by 2023, its impact if we don’t prepare to become self-reliant in food production. And also highlighted on Ngultrum getting undervalued, switching from subsistence to commercial production, urgency on fallow land consolidation for food production. Lyonpo urged the meetings to come up with new innovations and project proposals to establish RNR Enterprises, one such example was to have a Dzongkhag or region based mass fruit trees cultivation- famously termed as Avocado Forests., this idea could also help improve human wildlife issues and increase economic returns.
Lyonpo assured the market for any agriculture produce and encouraged to produce higher volume and also expressed the importance of cold storage in the strategic locations. The meeting also discussed on the opportunity of product value addition and how private sectors could establish such facilities.
The news on government coming up with a Bank for Cottage and Small Industries, with different loan products to suit the small business establishment came with great relief for many in the meetings. Lyonpo explained on the objectives of establishing the SOEs like Farm Machineries Corporation Limited (FMCL) and said that their main role is to compliment on things which the farmers are not able to do. SOEs key activities could be input supply, marketing the produce from farmers, linking with export market, providing technical supports, and produce the commodities which are in the deficit. Lyonpo assured that it is not at all to compete with the farmers.
Lyonpo also shared the seriousness of the global phenomena of climate change and how it will affect the water shortage and how we should prepare to change the crop choices to adapt to the climate change.
Reported and Photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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