Agricultural sector to feed about 815,755 people by 2030 

Agricultural sector to feed about 815,755 people by 2030 

New business linkages have connected 81 schools with 130 suppliers and three hospitals with five suppliers

The contractual agreements between 255 schools with 522 suppliers and two hospitals with two suppliers have been renewed. New business linkages have connected 81 schools with 130 suppliers and three hospitals with five suppliers.

This is according to the linking schools and hospitals program. The state of the Nation report 2022 also states that the agriculture sector will have to feed about 815,755 people by 2030.

Considering the current per capita consumption, it would require 282,296MT of cereals from 162,930.68MT in 2021, similarly 136,605MT of vegetables, pulses, fruits, roots and tubers, mustard and spices from 124115.55MT in 2021, 81,981MT of milk from 54,654.06MT in 2021, 6,180.24MT of meat from 4,120.16MT in 2021, and 199mn eggs from 133mn eggs in 2021 annually by 2030.

However, the agriculture sector is confronted with many challenges.  There is less than 2.7% of the total land under cultivation while the labour force is dwindling. There is considerable scope in improving yield, technology adoption, value addition, premium branding, marketing exploration, and employment generation in the renewable natural resources sector (RNR).

An official from the RNR sector said that by mobilizing interventions, strengthening existing foundations, and empowering farmers and the private sector, “We aim to upscale the agriculture sector and contribute to maximizing GNH and achieving the SDGs.”

“We will strive towards realizing a robust commercial farming system. Investments will be rationalized to accord due priority to achieving food security, income generation, and livelihood enhancement,” he said, adding that the ultimate goal is to make farmers earn better by producing high-value agricultural commodities.

Meanwhile, the RNR commodity trade is considered an important economic activity in the country. According to the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives’ (DAMC) annual report 2021-2022, there was almost Nu 2bn trade deficit in 2021 as compared to the previous year.

The import of RNR goods has increased by almost Nu 2.9bn in 2021 and the export decreased by almost Nu 748mn as compared to the year 2020.

In 2021, the trade balance in RNR commodities was Nu -7.2bn. Similarly, in 2020 the trade balance was Nu -5.2bn. This means, the country exported Nu 3.1bn worth of commodities while Nu 10.4bn worth of commodities were imported into the country leading to a negative trade balance.   

A rough calculation shows that the balance of trade in RNR has dropped by almost Nu 2bn. “As of 2021, the overall balance of trade in RNR commodities is not in favour,” the RNR report stated.

As per the report, the trade deficit in RNR is attributed to the import of rice worth almost Nu 2.6bn and the import of meat worth almost Nu 11.6bn, which, imports of the winter vegetables, oilseeds, spices, wheat, and edible oil are also included in the cause of trade deficit.

The country imported RNR commodities like cereals worth Nu 1.6bn between January to June last year, followed by edible oil of about Nu 941mn, dairy products worth Nu 631.68mn and meat worth Nu 455.80mn, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits of worth Nu 421.90mn and Nu 272.66mn each.

The import of RNR commodities from January to June 2021 also includes fish, dried vegetables, cereals flour, areca nut, and species worth Nu 180.98mn, 263mn, 142.87mn, 106.51mn, and Nu 12.03mn each, followed by Nu 4.67mn and Nu 3.05mn each in dried fruits and oil seeds.

The country imported only RNR commodities worth Nu 5.0bn from January to June in 2021 from a total import of Nu 10.4bn in the year 2021.

Further, the top export RNR commodity includes 13505.52MT of fresh fruits, 6201.41MT of nuts, 29.38MT of non-wood forest products (NWFP), 8167.00MT of Spices, and 29299.57MT of fresh vegetables including potatoes.      

Bhutan also exports a substantial volume of spice, mainly cardamom and ginger, potatoes and fruits, apples, and mandarin. NWFP such as Cordyceps Sinensis, pipla, and chirata are also exported.

Meanwhile, the export market promotion of the RNR commodities is explored in Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Australia, while as per the annual report, the additional market was explored through desktop research and dispatch of samples to designated export market destinations.

The commodity for export promotion includes honey to India, Singapore, and Hong Kong, buckwheat to Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan. Similarly, quinoa to Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, ginger powder to Singapore, Bangladesh, Japan, Italy, and turmeric powder to Singapore, Bangladesh, Japan, Italy, and Green Tea to Singapore, and Hong Kong followed by fresh ginger to Bangladesh and fresh turmeric to Bangladesh.

However, two value chain analyses on winter chili and minor cereals like barley and millet have been completed in the fiscal year 2021-2022. The report stated that the analysis was concentrated only in those districts with a major production of the identified commodity for the study.

“The two-value chain analysis is developed for a thorough understanding of the functioning of the chain, understand the different agents and stakeholders in the chain, get insights into the marketing aspects of the chain with respect to the value added by each agent, understand the constraints and issues at each level (production, marketing, imports, and processing),” the report stated.

The report also states that the objective of the value chain initiative is to conduct a thorough analysis of the commodities that hold promise as potential areas of growth for agricultural and rural development.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu