School feeding program to roll out in one school in each Dzongkhag by this year

The initiation of school feeding program (SFP) would start in one school from each Dzongkhag by this year. Plans are on to supply perishable agriculture products to all schools in the country by 2021. 

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said the SFP is the mandate of the government and government should also consider the nutritional content of the program.

“We all know that comparatively agriculture and livestock products that we have is with less chemicals inputs and in that way nutrition value or the quality of food resources is definitely better,” said Lyonpo.

He also said the SFP was endorsed by the cabinet after the task force from agriculture and education ministry presented the report.

“Our plan is to feed all schools through local producers by 2021,” said Lyonpo.

Moreover, he said individual farmers and cooperatives should take up the production of the agriculture produce and wherever the supply will not be able to be met, State Owned Enterprises like Farm Machinery Corporation Limited and Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation may supplement the supply.

On the supply side, Food Corporation of Bhutan would address the complication of contact point, he added.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering also said the import of rice amounts to Nu 5.4bn annually and another few billions for the vegetables.

While 58% of Bhutanese are agriculture-based employing only 3.5%  and that accounts to 2.5% in terms of agriculture related enterprises in the country, he added.

“I intend the money that we spend on SFP must circulate within the Bhutanese economy and any amount that goes out should be for only those products that we cannot produce,” said Lyonchhen.

For example, for products like sugar and salt that have to be imported and even edible oil, which we have the potential to produce, said Lyonchhen.

Lyonchhen said the SFP has a budget outlay of Nu 217mn and it should go to those working in farms where they grow agricultural produce and a system will buy and distribute it to the schools.

FCBL would supply the local produce and Bhutan Post would transport the agriculture produce to the refrigerator, he said.

Lyonchhen also urged that without all the players and sectors doing their part, the project is not achievable by the agriculture ministry alone.

Additionally, he said the government should also change the style of conventional planning process and governance.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu