Choki Wangmo 

Bhutan sought enhanced professionalism and operational capacity backed by commercial resources of FAO Bhutan to deliver required services in the agriculture sector.

The Bhutanese delegation to the FAO regional conference for Asia and the Pacific, led by the Director General of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Tashi Samdrup (PhD) submitted the proposal on the second day of the conference yesterday.

While acknowledging the FAO’s contribution to developing agriculture, Tashi Samdrup said that the country’s progress in the sector was impeded by the lack of decentralised FAO operations at the country level.

He said that the constitutional mandate to maintain 60 percent of land under forest cover, organic agriculture goals, and carbon-neutral status had given Bhutan a unique perspective to agriculture and natural resource use.

But the aspiration to transform the Bhutanese farming system to align with overall national agenda had been challenged by conservation policies, he said.

“Conservation policies challenge us to innovate and develop the agriculture sector in the mountainous area, and build a sustainable and resilient food system.”

The submission is part of agenda 21 of the conference, FAO’s decentralised offices’ network, whose strategic positioning has been significantly affected by a paradigm shift in the global development system and changing external landscape.

To reinforce collaborative efforts and identify greater synergies between UN partners to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), FAO is working towards implementation of the UN development system repositioning.

The agenda 21 stated that the FAO’s decentralised network would help to support governments to achieve SDGs, focusing particularly on accelerating the agricultural and rural transformation to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2).

A decentralised offices’ network is expected to have a greater delegation of authority in various fields such as procurement and human resources, with the overall objective to ensure effective, agile and result-oriented delivery of FAO’s programme of work on the ground.

“The shift will enhance the monitoring and evaluation function in the field, aiming to increase decentralised offices’ capacities, efficiency and responsiveness to member countries’ needs,” the agenda stated.

FAO supported Bhutan since 1972 although the country became a member in 1981.

In the meantime, with support from eight other member countries, Bangladesh proposed the 36th Session of the FAO regional conference for Asia and the Pacific to be held in Bangladesh in 2022.

The four-day virtual conference with participation from 46 member countries is hosted and chaired by Bhutan. It will end on Friday.