2 August 2014, Wangdue: His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister for Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) formally inaugurated the 0.5 MT per hour capacity rice mill at Bajo in Wangduephodrang today.
Speaking at the function, His Excellency shared that “with the realization of education policy in the Country and rural-urban migration, farm labour shortage has become a serious concern in the farming community. Therefore, the MoAF has always accorded high priority in reducing drudgery while carrying out farming activities with the establishment and introduction of Agriculture Machinery and its hiring services at the very minimum and affordable cost”. Lyonpo further added that “in order to improve quality of milled rice and marketing of local rice, several interventions have been undertaken by MoAF including the installation of modern rice mills in potential Dzongkhags. Apart from the 1.5 MT per hour capacity rice mill installed at Chuzargang in Sarpang in 2008-2009, MoAF has also completed installation of three other rice mills of 0.5 per hour capacity for Wangdue-Punakha at RDC Bajo, Tsirang-Dagana at Mithun, Damphu and for Samdrup Jongkhar at Phuntshothang”.
The rice mills were installed by the Department of Agriculture (DoA) under the Rice Commercialization Program with the objective to formalize marketing of domestic rice and to increase profitability of rice farmers in the Country. The rice commercialization program began in 2010 under the Accelerating Bhutan’s Socio-economic Development (ABSD) initiative charter for rice productivity improvement. The rice commercialization program is one of the most important initiatives being undertaken by the DoA with an overall goal to contribute to the National food security and rice self-sufficiency in the Country. Rice commercialization activities are started in 2010, but some ground works on rice commercialization were initiated at Chuzagang Gewog in Sarpang prior to 2010 with the assistance of Eu-supported ASSP project. The rice commercialization program has adopted an area approach for implementation with a target to bring about 15,000 hc under various forms of interventions by 2018. The potential rice target Dzongkhags include Sarpang, Samtse, Samdrupjongkhar, Wangdue, Punakha, Tsirang, Dagana, Lhuntse, Mongar, Thimphu and Paro. The cost of the mill house and rice processing plant is Nu. 4.6 million.
The rice mill in Wangdue along with two other new mills in Tsirang and Phuntshothang was also officially handed over to Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Officiating Director General of DoA and Chief Executive Officer of FCB. According to the MoU, FCB will operate the mills as an interim step until CAFCo and other upcoming cooperatives become fully capable to run the operations. This was mainly done due to an urgent need to entrust the mill for professional management to an entity that has adequate expertise, experience and working capital as existing farmer’s cooperatives and groups do not function satisfactorily and lack adequate working capital and efficient management.
The inaugural and handing/taking ceremony program was attended by the Hon’ble Secretary, MoAF, officials and representatives from Punakha and Wangdue Dzongkhag and senior officials from MoAF.
His Excellency along with Hon’ble Secretary and senior officials of the Ministry also visited Wangdue Territorial Division Office of Department of Forests and Park Services, College of Natural Resources and ongoing Agriculture Demonstration and Training Centre at Chimipang, Punakha.
Reported by Penjor with Photo by Choidup, ICS
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