Bhutan achieves 84% self-sufficiency in vegetable production

Bhutan achieves 84% self-sufficiency in vegetable production

food self-sufficiency in the country stands at 68.30% with 2,76,987.56MT of agriculture products produced last year

The notion that Bhutan is not just vegetable self-sufficient but it has also been gaining traction in many quarters, including parts of the policymaking establishment over the past years.

 With the measures to enhance food security and food production, including the distribution of 594 prefabricated greenhouses to farmers, rehabilitation of 2,070 acres of land through sustainable land management, and machine hiring services to 6,450 households covering 14,785.97 acres, the country achieves 84% self-sufficiency in vegetable production.

According to the state of the nation report, food self-sufficiency in rice products stands at 34.71%, maize at 72.27%, and 84% for vegetables, followed by dairy products and meat products at 92% and 44% each, while 100% for egg products in the country.

A rough calculation shows that the food self-sufficiency in the country stands at 68.30% with 2,76,987.56MT (metric tonne) of agriculture products produced last year.

The product includes 76,487MT of cereal production, 40,508MT of paddy, and 30,939MT of maize products. While vegetable production includes spices, roots, and tubers with 80,711.11MT and fruit production with 48,342.45MT.

   The figure shows Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has achieved a major portion of food sufficiency in the country. However, the ministry intends to achieve 60 to 75 percent of food self-sufficiency towards the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan.

Furthermore, around 448.7MT of various agro-chemicals, 552MT of vegetables, cereals, potato seeds, and oilseeds, and 2,197MT of fertilizers followed by 2, 38,323 high-quality fruit plants were supplied to the farmers. 

With Agriculture being the main source of livelihood for 48.7% of the Bhutanese population, Agricultureโ€™s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 19.15% in 2020 to 19.19% in 2021. This accounts for Nu 36.03bn GDP contribution in 2021.

Meanwhile, under the big-ticket initiative, 13 additional broiler farms, 24 additional layer farms, and 24 additional pig breeding farms were established and in addition, 9.638 acres of new fishery ponds and irrigation constructions were given to interested fish farmers in Tsirang, Sarpang, Dagana, and Samdrup Jongkhar. 

The report also states that the Livestock production includes 3,154.30MT of local cheese, butter with 1,930MT and 54,654.06MT of milk, and 4,120.16MT of meat including pork, chicken, beef, chevon and fish followed by 643,094 layers day-old chicks and 14,608 commercial piglets, while 2,775,894 fingerlings were produced and distributed to potential fishery farmers in 14 dzongkhags.

In addition, for the production markets, the royal government has made access to the farmers of Wangduephodrang, Punakha, and Gasa with cold storage facilities. It was constructed by the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) and the operations began in November this year.

Similarly, three cold stores at Zhemgang, Dagana, and Samtse are also being planned. Sarpang, Tsirang, and Zhemgang farmers have the access to the facility in Sarpang while the facility can store up to 300 tonnes of agricultural and livestock products and cold stores in Trashigang and the organic sales outlet at Paro are under construction and expected to be completed within this fiscal year, the report states.    

The export facilitation at major export gateways (Phuentsholing, Nanglam, Samtse, and Gelephu), site identification, and other preliminary works are underway, the report states. 

According to the state of the Nation 2022, 16,000MT of apple, bettle nut, cardamom, ginger, and vegetables were exported mainly to India and some to Bangladesh, while 20,000MT potatoes were exported worth Nu 364mn.

Similarly, 1.7MT of mixed products including turmeric powder, ginger powder, quinoa, and foxtail were also sent to Malaysia, and buckwheat was also marketed to Japan. Another 20MT will be shipped soon to Japan. As of mandarin, 11,279MT were exported to India and Bangladesh, worth Nu 396.64mn.

Meanwhile, major ongoing activities in the agriculture sector include the revision of the food and nutrition policy 2014 and the development of RNR strategy 2030 and FNS Policy Action Plans. While the activities also include pursuing 100% sterilization of stray dogs and 100% registration and microchipping.  

In addition, the activities also include the supply of 2,000 greenhouses to the farmers, bringing 4,500 acres of land under farm mechanization and constructing irrigation systems for 1,000 acres of land, piloting sturgeon farms, value addition to honey products, piloting Royal Jelly production in Bumthang and cross-breeding of Wagyu-yak for high-quality meat production.  

Furthermore, the activity includes Chain-link establishment in the dzongkhags (178 km will be built in the first phase), a venture of the next-generation agriculture using modern technologies, prioritization of 15 crops for food and nutrition security and 17 crops for income generation, while it also includes introducing native breed pork meat and certify eggs from native poultry, followed by a million fruit trees plantation will also be pursued annually for the next five years.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu