24 Irrigation projects included in 13th Five-Year Plan

24 Irrigation projects included in 13th Five-Year Plan

In an effort to boost agricultural productivity and economic growth, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL) has included 24 irrigation water channel projects in the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP).

Agriculture Minister Younten Phuntsho announced that these projects are expected to cover approximately 140 kilometers of irrigation channels, benefiting around 4,000 acres of land and 2,700 households nationwide.

During the first session of the fourth parliament, the minister responded to questions from Namgay Wangchuk, Member of Parliament (MP) for Lingmukha-Toedwang Constituency. The MP emphasized that many Bhutanese depend on agriculture, particularly rice cultivation, which requires a reliable water supply. He pressed the minister to outline the plans for addressing water shortages through the irrigation water flagship programs.

Lyonpo Younten Phuntsho assured the parliament that the ministry is actively working on water conservation strategies, including smart irrigation systems designed to save water. He highlighted ongoing efforts to preserve water sources and mentioned the inclusion of solar and electric pumps in the 13th FYP to provide more efficient and convenient services to farmers.
MP Naiten Wangchuk of Monggar constituency also raised concerns about the 13th FYP, specifically the ambitious goal of increasing GDP from Nu 27 billion in 2022 to Nu 50 billion by 2029. He questioned whether the focus on commercializing crops and livestock production, particularly high-value products, would be sufficient to meet this target, especially with only 3% of the budget allocated to this sector.

In response, the Agriculture Minister expressed confidence in achieving the GDP target, stating that the ministry’s focus on high-value agricultural and livestock commodities for both export and domestic markets is central to the 13th FYP. He emphasized that the plan includes promoting commercial farming, increasing farmers’ income, and utilizing high-tech farming methods to drive economic growth.

“The ministry will focus on high-value agricultural and livestock commodities meant for export and the domestic market in the 13th FYP,” he stated. He added that the government’s broader strategy includes promoting commercial farming and incorporating advanced farming technologies to enhance productivity and meet the ambitious GDP target by 2029.

These initiatives are expected to significantly improve the agricultural sector, ensuring a steady supply of water for farming and contributing to Bhutan’s overall economic development.
Bhutan has achieved strong economic growth over the past three decades, and the number of people living in poverty has declined by over 50 per cent between 2007 and 2021. Nevertheless, poverty persists, with over 90 per cent of the country’s poor located in rural areas.

BY Sherab Dorji, Thimphu