24 Irrigation projects included in 13th Five-Year Plan

Agriculture Ministry to propose loan from Japanese Government

During the question and answer hour of the fourth session of the National Assembly (NA) on June 28, 2024, Younten Phuntsho, the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL), announced that the Ministry is proposing a loan from the Japanese government. The Minister stated that the primary aim of this proposal is to address the shortage of farm machinery, among other challenges.
โ€œAs the country has graduated from the least developed country status, it is very challenging to make this proposal to the Japanese government. However, the Ministry is working on it,โ€ the Minister said.
The proposal aims to address not only the shortage of combined harvester machinery but also includes equipment that can be used in rough terrains. Additionally, the Minister highlighted that equal services would be provided across the country, with strategies planned accordingly to benefit everyone equally under the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP).
During the session, Member of Parliament (MP) Sonam Tashi of Lamgong-Wangchang Constituency raised concerns about the decrease in paddy production. He questioned the Minister about the Ministryโ€™s plans to increase paddy production and address labor shortages and limited machinery in the Paro district.
In response, the Minister explained that the overall decrease in paddy fields in the country is due to a scarcity of water irrigation. This issue has already been addressed in the 13th FYP, which includes plans to build water irrigation systems in different parts of the country. The Minister also mentioned that the Ministry will continue to support chain link fencing for human-wildlife conflict and provide other technical support in various districts.
Regarding machinery, especially combine harvester machines, the Minister noted that there are only 25 such machines in the country, with 22 located in the Paro district. These machines are used according to the landโ€™s terrace features and are only operational for two months during the harvest season. The high cost of these machines, approximately Nu 10.8 million each, is the primary reason for not procuring them in larger numbers.
In response to MP Loday Tsheten of Gangzur-Minjey constituency regarding fair and equal services, the Minister stated that the Ministry has planned to provide fair and equal facilities to all districts. For instance, if the terrace is favorable for combine harvester machines, they will provide those machines, and if the terrace is suitable for tractor machines, then they will provide tractor machines, and vice versa.
Similarly, in response to MP Naiten Wangchuk regarding labor shortages, the Minister mentioned that discussions on a day labor proposal are underway and in progress.

By Sherab Dorji, Thimphu