Total of Nu 3.05 billion budget has been allocated for the ministry of agriculture and forest agency in the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP), which is a decline from the total budget outlay of Nu 9.45 billion proposed by the ministry.

The budget allocation for the sector has been declining since the seventh FYP.

The budget for the ministry has been declining over the years where the ministry received only six percent of the total budget allocation in the last 10th and 11th FYP.

The last time the ministry received the highest budget was in the 3rd and 4th FYP where 23 percent of the total budget outlay was allocated to agriculture and forest ministry.

Although the decline in the budget for the agriculture sector is seen as an unfortunate trend, the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said it is an opportunity for the minister to work hard.

“I would say this is unfortunate if we look at the budget allocation figure but then I would say it is fortunate for a minister because it gives me a responsibility to mobilise the remaining budget requirement,” lyonpo said. “I wouldn’t take this as a disappointment and only as an opportunity to prove myself that people have not placed their trust in the wrong place.”

The ministry had proposed 387 broad activities under the different programmes that would have improved food self-sufficiency and nutrition security, highland development, coordination and support services, climate-smart and disaster resilient, and value chain and enterprise development, among others.

“The irrigation is also one important activity but is deficient in terms of budget allocation,” Lyonpo said. “There is no budget for irrigation or livestock but irrigation would be taken as national flagship where it would be solved through water central body.”

Lyonpo said with this, the budget for agriculture and forest sector, would slightly increase. About four irrigation projects are on-going, while 26 irrigation schemes were ready with designs and plans, including cost estimations, which could cost about Nu 4.3 billion based on the 11th Plan.

Almost 25 percent of the total arable land (wetland) is assured irrigation. There are over 1,000 irrigation facilities in the country, 90 percent of which face water shortages.

The ministry had identified 108 schemes (above 70 acres command area per scheme) for improvement to be executed in the 11th Plan and to explore water pumps (solar and electric) and other technologies.

“But we don’t have a budget and the only hope is water central body. Until this body comes up, the minister will have to look for the budget,” lyonpo said. “The decline in the budget this time could be also because 50 percent of the budget would be decentralised to local government.”

Yangchen C Rinzin