The ministry of agriculture and forests will have to produce about 60,000 metric tonnes (MT) of vegetables if it has to meet its target of enhancing food security and nutrition.

This was one of the commitments the agriculture ministry made when the annual performance agreement (APA) for fiscal year 2017-2018 was signed on July 28 between the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji.

The ministry has targeted to increase horticulture crop production, which includes production of citrus to about 45,000MT and potato production to 60,000MT.

Almost 85,000MT of paddy production and 82,000MT of maize production should be met to achieve the year’s target to increase field crop production for enhancing cereal self-sufficiency.

To increase livestock production, the ministry should produce about 40,000MT of milk or at least 32,000MT to meet 80 percent of the target. It also targets to earn about Nu 92 million from egg production, produce 1,200MT of chicken, 900MT of pork, and 250MT of fish to achieve the target apart from other livestock production.

The ministry should construct or renovate 200km of road and 53km of irrigation channel by 2018 to meet the target of improving agriculture infrastructure.

Yak population should reach about 40,100 numbers as per the APA signed or at least 28,070 yaks to meet 70 percent of the target that would enhance highland livestock production efficiency and service delivery.

The ministry will also develop carbon assessment report and assess the wetland by May 31, 2018. The APA also commits to ensure water security and ecosystem services through development of effective integrated watershed management (IWM) practices in selected watersheds, to develop two IWM and put 400 hectares of land under afforestation and reforestation.

The APA’s mandatory objective is to ensure 100 percent budget utilisation, which according to Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji is Nu 3.326 billion.

The agreement aims to enhance agriculture marketing and increase employment opportunities to increase mean annual rural income through the establishment of 58 marketing structures (including farm shops) that would generate about 150 jobs.

Some of the objectives are to enhance national bio-security and bio-safety, enable effective and efficient ICT service delivery, and implement national integrity and anti-corruption strategy.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said APA 2017-18 is the last for the 11th Plan. “We’re not deterred by numerous challenges,” he said. “The RNR family would strive to achieve the set targets even though agriculture, livestock and forestry are highly vulnerable sectors.”

Lyonpo said despite numerous challenges like wildlife conflict, market accessibility, topography, climate change and disasters, the annual growth rate of four percent was achieved in the last fiscal year.

“We’re aiming to install at least one electric fence in every chiwog by 2018 and find ways to improve rice production. To achieve eight objectives in 2017-2018, we’ve identified 32 success indicators in the APA.”

Lyonpo said that some of the major achievements of APA 2016-2017 was production of 80,197MT of paddy, installation of 751km of electric fencing against the target of 205km, establishment of 154 farm shops among others.

Appreciating the staff of agriculture ministry, the prime minister said it was good to see most of the students engaged in agriculture activities during the summer break.

Yangchen C Rinzin