Japan gifted Bhutanese farmers with the largest consignment of road construction machinery so far to forge their way into future yesterday.
Japan’s Ambassador to Bhutan Kenji Hiramatsu handed over 30 excavators, 20 Backhoes, and other equipment worth USD 6.948 million (M) to the agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji in a modest ceremony in Bumthang yesterday.
Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said the new set of machinery would help the government achieve the targets of the 11th Plan.
“With this current fleet of machinery, the ministry can construct 457km of farm roads by next June alone which can comfortably meet the target of the 11th Plan,” he said.
Lyonpo thanked the people and government of Japan for the grant aid.
“The support we receive today will help realise the objectives of rural access programme in promoting accessibility, enhancing food security and reducing poverty,” the minister said.
By the end of the 11th Plan, the country will have about 8,400km of farm roads with 3,191km being covered with support from machinery granted by the Government of Japan.
From the 12th Plan, the minister said, the focus will be on consolidation and maintenance of existing farm roads.
He said it was timely for the government to work towards improving farm roads to provide the rural population with all-weather access round the year to social services and agricultural input required for crop production and income generation.
The minister said that Japan government’s acceptance of a new proposal that the government submitted for farm maintenance was significant in achieving these goals.
“The assistance provided by Japan so far in the past two phases of machinery support have been significant in rural income generation and livelihoods by opening up the markets and social services,” Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.
The Japan government gave 35 excavators, five bull dozers, five dump trucks, 10 vibration rollers, two trailers, two truck cranes, and more of such equipment in the earlier two phases of the Project for Improvement of Machinery and Equipment for Construction of Rural Agriculture Road.
The minister said that in the past two phases of support under the project, it constructed 2,136km of new farm roads and maintained 1,483km of farm roads in the country as of last month.
Japan is the second highest contributor in development aid after India.
Japan and Bhutan celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries last year.