Agriculture: Paro valley witnessed a major milestone in Japan-Bhutan relations as the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd (FMCL) was inaugurated yesterday.

FMCL was formerly the Agriculture Machinery Centre (AMC).

FMCL is mandated to provide affordable farm mechanisation goods and services to the farming community. The corporation will sell or hire out farm machinery to farmers, sell implements and spare parts, and repair and maintain farm machinery.

The new corporation, through its four regional offices in Trashigang, Sarpang, Paro and Wangdue, will fabricate farm machinery, implements and spare parts, and sell petroleum, oil and lubricants.

The corporation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bhutan Hydropower Service Ltd in Gelephu to produce spare parts.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that the corporation has a big mandate as power tillers have reached all the gewogs.

AMC was established in 1983, spearheaded by Dasho Kenji Nishioka, to realise national food self-sufficiency and it embarked on the programme to mechanise Bhutanese agriculture through the use of appropriate farm machineries and tools.

Corporatising does not mean compromises in AMC’s mandates but instead will promote efficiency, Lyonpo said.

AMC also handed over machines and equipment to the corporation yesterday.

FMCL was incorporated as a 100 percent state-owned enterprise (SoE) on March 29, 2016 under the Companies Act.

FMCL officials said that farm labour shortages, human-wild life conflicts, rural-urban migration and seasonal water shortage has led to more fallowing of land threatening food self-sufficiency and food security in the country.

Although huge potential is there to mechanise and increase productivity, it is still untapped.

“The corporation in future will also do contract farming in fallow agriculture land,” Lyonpo said.

About eight percent of the arable land is semi mechanised mostly with the supply of subsidised power tillers received under the Japanese 2KR grant schemes.

The processing of rice and maize is almost 70 percent semi mechanized with more individual houses owning the machines.

The country has been gradually shifting from subsistence agriculture to commercial farming to increase food production and productivity.

The government plans to expand the mechanisation and to cover over 55,000 acres of farmland in all gewogs by the end of the 11th Plan.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Bhutan also contributed computers, a server, and motorbikes to the corporation.

JICA’s chief representative, Koji Yamada, said that unbundling of hiring services from AMC is consistent with the global trend toward developing effectiveness.

JICA has been implementing the second phase of the farm mechanisation project with AMC. He said that FMCL, which took away part of the project, would still remain within the scope of the technical cooperation.

He said that the corporation could aid in meeting the global sustainable development targets related to hunger, food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

Agriculture minister said 400 power tillers will arrive by early next year.

Tshering Palden | Paro