Agrees in principle to supply 30 excavators and 20 backhoe machines

Grant: The government of Japan will grant machineries by June 2017 to help the government accomplish the farm road construction targets of the 11th Plan.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will supply at least 30 excavators, 20 backhoe machines and two trailers with other accessories in the third phase of the Japanese Grant aid project for improvement of machinery and equipment for construction of rural agricultural roads.

The delegates from JICA, Gross National Happiness Commission and agriculture department signed the minutes of discussions on the preparatory survey for the project in presence of the agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji yesterday in Thimphu.

Agriculture ministry has to construct about 2,500km of new farm roads in the 11th Plan. Of that, the ministry plans to construct 1,300km roads using equipment with the Central Machinery Unit in Bumthang.

However, given the shortage of machineries at the CMU it would be able to construct only 843km, with no prospect of completing the remaining 457km to meet the target of the Plan.

“Under these circumstances, the government requested Japan to help procure more machines, ”the executive engineer for farm roads with the engineering division Gyembo Tenzin said.

Following the request from the government during the ninth bilateral annual consultation with Japan last year, the Japan government entrusted the preparatory survey to JICA.

Based on the discussions and field survey conducted in last August and September in the country and verifying the basis and technical needs of the project, JICA prepared a Draft Preparatory Survey Report. The preparatory survey team led by JICA Senior Advisor, (Dr) Makoto Inaba, to explain the draft report and consult with the Bhutanese officials on its contents.

The draft report signed yesterday includes provisional project cost estimates, Japanese grant scheme, project implementation schedule, expected outcomes and indicators among others.

(Dr) Makoto  Inaba said that the machineries granted in previous projects have been utilized well.

“We also recognized that farms roads are essential to improve the lives of the people in the rural areas,” (Dr) Makoto Inaba said.

The project would be submitted to the Japanese Cabinet in February 2016 for approval.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said the machines would immensely benefit the people through the farm roads. The dzongkhags will be able to use the machines but have to bear the costs of fuel and other lubricants.

“The first two phases of the JICA assistance contributed to rural income generation and improved livelihoods by opening farmers up to the markets and services,” Gyembo Tenzin said. “It has also helped in the farm road construction capacity building.”

The ministry received 35 excavators, five bulldozers, five dump trucks, 10 vibration rollers, two trailers and two truck cranes in the previous two phases in the past two plans. With those machines, the ministry constructed 1,555km of farm roads.

“The continued support in the form of third phase will help achieve the targets of the Plan on  maintenance and construction of farm roads,” Gyembo Tenzin said.

CMU has 40 units of hydraulic excavators, five bulldozers, dump trucks, vibration rollers, air compressors and 10 units of wheel loaders besides other supporting machineries.

Tshering Palden