Chhimi Dema

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is in talks with the insurance companies in the country and proposed a fund from the Adaptation Fund to compensate the farmers for their crop damage and loss.

These initiatives were taken after the human-wildlife conflict endowment fund failed its implementation due to the pandemic and misuse of the fund, according to Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor.

Chumey-Ura Member of Parliament, Karma Wangchuk, asked the minister about the status and implementation of the endowment fund during the National Assembly Question Hour session on November 18.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the agriculture ministry adds Nu 1.7 billion as the principal amount for the endowment fund, and compensations for crop or livestock losses are paid from its interest.

“For this, the government has to invest or look for donors. Owing to the pandemic, the government could not inject the amount,” he said.

Farmers in the country on average lose about 8,250 metric tonnes of crops worth Nu 171.75 million every year to wild animals, according to forestry officials in the country. The endowment fund was established in 2010 to support the farmers in recovering from crop loss and damage.

However, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that international experts recommend an insurance scheme instead of the endowment fund. “Experts said that the endowment fund is not a sustainable funding mechanism and donors do not support it.”

Lyonpo informed the House that during his recent visit to Italy, he proposed USD 4.9 million to the Adaption Fund.

Adaption Fund is an international fund that finances projects and programmes aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.

The agriculture ministry was asked to submit a proposal to secure funds.

The endowment fund failed partly because of its lengthy process to claim compensation. Considering it, the previous government gave Nu 300,000 from the fund to the gewogs to compensate the farmers for their loss.

However, it was found that some gewog administrations used the endowment fund to supplement the budget for developmental activities.

Currently, the ministry established the gewog tiger conservation tshogpa (GTCT) which is a community-based tiger conservation fund in six gewogs of Nubi, Tangsibji, Langthel, and Nabji Korphu in Trongsa, Nangkhor in Zhemgang, and Chumey in Bumthang.

Bhutan Tiger Centre under the agriculture ministry provides Nu 1 million as seed money for the GTCT and the member pays a minimum premium for their registered livestock.