YK Poudel

Bhutan has made an ambitious goal to contribute Nu 50 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2029—with between 7 and 8 percent annual growth.

Bhutan aims to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) significantly by 2029, targeting a contribution of Nu 50 billion.

This can be achieved only through consistent annual growth ranging between 7 and 8 percent.

At yesterday’s meet-the-press programme in Thimphu, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Younten Phuntsho, highlighted that in the 13th Five Year Plan, the Department of Agriculture will prioritise: promotion of large-scale commercial farming; enhancing support for subsistence farming to improve livelihoods and ensure food security; promotion of high-value products for export markets; enhancing ecosystem services for sustainable and resilient biodiversity initiatives; and improving the governance mechanism to enhance the business ecosystem.

Lyonpo said that large-scale commercial farming would involve a collaborative effort between government agencies and youth, utilising advanced commercial farming techniques, adding that the government intends to foster the cultivation of high-value agricultural crops and livestock commodities with significant market value, facilitating their exportation.

The agriculture department has facilitated the connection between farming communities and schools, as well as other institutions, enabling them to supply their produce as part of the school-feeding programme.

Lyonpo said that the development of agriculture and livestock businesses and enterprises is paramount. These initiatives are strategically aligned with the government’s Five-Year Plan (FYP), which seeks to bolster the economy by contributing to a US Dollar 5 billion GDP.

According to an official from the Department of Agriculture, the proposed projects under the 13th Plan (FYP) are designed to achieve specific outputs, including the enhancement of the business ecosystem and the increase in GDP through the strategic sector’s contribution.

The official said that under the two main proposals of promoting large-scale commercial farming and supporting subsistence farming, five projects are planned with a proposed budget allocation: Nu 2,850.62 million for large-scale farming; Nu 10,615.16 million for subsistence farming; Nu 466.3 million for high-value products; Nu 101 million for biodiversity initiatives; Nu 2006 million for policy and legislation.

This totals Nu 15,897.58 million proposed for implementation over the next five years.

In 2022, the primary sector, which includes agriculture, forestry, and livestock, contributed Nu 33,422.60 million, accounting for 14.67 percent of the country’s GDP. In comparison, the secondary sector (industries) contributed 31.82 percent, and the tertiary sector (services) contributed 53.50 percent.

The total domestic production in Bhutan in 2022 was 173,240.59 metric tons (MT) of cereals, vegetables, fruits, and spices. Bhutan exports about 27 items worth Nu 2,650 million annually, while the import value for 144 items amounts to Nu 23,526.07 million. The projected food requirement by 2034 is estimated at 429,908 MT of cereals, vegetables, and fruits.

The RNR Census 2019 revealed that 26.4 percent of land in Bhutan is fallow, indicating increasing challenges for farmers.

Despite these challenges, it is noteworthy that the agriculture, forestry, and livestock sectors achieved an annual growth rate of 9.6 percent between 2000 and 2022.

In line with the “Food Nutrition Security Policy of Bhutan 2024,” maintaining a national food security reserve is mandated for the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited due to Bhutan’s heightened vulnerability to both man-made and natural calamities.

This policy highlights the importance of ensuring food security to safeguard the well-being of the population, especially in times of crisis.