Compensation has to be sustainable: Agriculture Minister

Chimi Dema 

The government has amassed more than Nu 67 million (M) for an endowment fund for crop and livestock losses. The fund is expected to make the compensation scheme efficient and sustainable.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said, responding to the question at the National Council on Wednesday by MP for Sarpang, Anand Rai, on how was the government preparing compensation to farmers.

One of the biggest challenges facing rural residents, Anand Rai said, was livestock or crops loss to wild animals.

There was an endowment fund the farmers had still not received any compensation for the loss of crops and livestock, Anand Rai said.

Lyonpo said that small amount of compensation during every crop or livestock loss was not a sustainable solution, adding the government’s fund target fund was Nu 1 billion. Nu 8 million for environmental conservation projects in the gewogs would be added to the fund.

Lyonpo said that an additional Nu 0.9 million would also be taken from the royalty paid by cordyceps collectors. “Nu 21 million for Takin preservation projects would also be added to the fund.”

Further, he said that the government was preparing programmes to encourage farmers to take up agricultural work, prevent rural-urban migration and to promote food self-sufficiency in the country.  The government, he informed, was also working on establishing agriculture and livestock trust fund.

“When the fund target of Nu 1.77 billion is met, the interest from the fund could help farmers with fencing materials and other resources,” Lyonpo said.

The government has provided seed money of Nu 50M to the fund.

The establishment of cottage and small industries (CSI) bank, Lyonpo said, could extend loan facilities for the agriculture and livestock sectors.

“About 60 percent of the loan would be for development of agriculture and livestock sector, with an interest rate not exceeding five percent,” he said.

Lyonpo said that the government was negotiating with the insurance companies in the country to work on the crop insurance scheme. The government would pay about 70 percent of the premium; the rest will have to be borne by the farmers.

MP for Gasa, Dorji Khandu, asked Lyonpo about the government’s plan to address human-wildlife conflict in the highlands. Recently, about wildlife had damaged 70 houses in Laya, he said, adding that this was discouraging people to leave the highlands which could give rise to security concerns in the long run.

Lyonpo said that the problem was expected to be resolved with highland development programme coming up. He said that 60 percent of the programme would be based on addressing threats from wildlife.

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