The agriculture ministry asked to reconsider three of the 37 targets they signed with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, which today risk failure.

Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji asked Lyonchhen and the government performance management division under his office to reduce targets for farm shops, fish production, and budget utilisation at the midterm review of the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) 2017-18 yesterday.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that the targets are endorsed as proposed for fish production and the reducing the number of farm shops the ministry has to establish this year.

Agriculture ministry asked to reduce the target for the 2017-18 from 58 to 44 shops.

Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji reported that the consultation with the dzongkhags suggested that there is no need to establish farm shops in the 14 gewogs identified earlier based on the one-farm shop a gewog policy.

“Many of these gewogs have access to services from the existing Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) outlets or the gewogs fall within the municipality or town area, where services can be easily availed,” he said. “People didn’t want them.”

The gewogs are Thedtsho and Gangtey in Wangdue, Choekhor in Bumthang, Dewathang in Samdrupjongkhar, Bjabcho in Chukha, Tsendagang in Dagana, Chang in Thimphu, Kilkhorthang, Tsholingkhar, and Rangthangling in Tsirang, and Hungrel, Wangchang, and Luni gewogs in Paro, and Katshog in Haa.

Rinzin Dorji said that there are two shops in some gewogs.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that despite the reduction in farm shops, the country would still have 212 at the end of the 11th Plan.

The ministry also asked Lyonchhen to revise their target for fish production from 70 Metreic Tonnes (MT) to 36MT.  Trout production target had to be reduced to 20MT from 40MT as the ministry was unable to acquire the two-acre private land needed to expand the freshwater fishery centre in Haa.

“Community-based capture fishery (CBF) is a new concept in the country and as it requires the involvement of many stakeholders only four of the seven targeted fisheries could be established,” Rinzin Dorji said. He said the production from CBF has to be lowered to 16MT instead of 30MT.

The ministry raised some concerns on mandatory success indicator of having to train half of the non-information and communication technology staff. “We have a huge pool of staff and to train them all would incur huge costs and need more time,” he said.

Rinzin Dorji said that there is a need to assess the impact and requirement for mandatory success indicators (SI) before assigning SIs for all agencies.

“We suggest that agency-specific mandatory success indicators be assigned instead of same mandatory SIs for all agencies,” he said.

The agriculture ministry said that there are incidences of natural calamities and disease outbreaks that affect the APA target particularly the production targets. For instance, around 3,815MT of potato was reported damaged by the late blight in three major potato-growing areas in Chukha, Haa and Bumthang.

“Similarly, Foot and Mouth disease outbreaks in Paro would affect milk or dairy production. Therefore, APA rating in such circumstances needs to be considered by the National Technical Committee, while rating the final APA,” Rinzin Dorji said.

The ministry also proposed to revise the target category for percent of budget utilised.

“We suggest that the target category be changed to excellent for 100 percent, very good for 90 percent, good for 80 percent, fair for 70 percent, and poor for utilisation below 60 percent,” he said.

At present, the rating is excellent for 100 percent utilization and poor for the rest.

Lyonchhen thanked the civil servants for their support in embracing the new system of performance management.

He, however, said that budget utilisation should not be mistaken for budget expenditure.

“If the budget for a building is Nu 1M, and you complete the building with Nu 6 lakhs then it is 100 percent utilisation and there is no problem in returning the rest of the money to finance ministry,” he said. “Don’t spend the leftover money unnecessarily on training or tours.”

Of the ministry’s revised budget of Nu 3,801M, it had so far spent Nu 1,353M or 35.6 percent.

Of the 37 targets, the agriculture and forests ministry has achieved nine and is on track to complete 25 targets.

The ministry has installed 4,500 biogas plants in the country exceeding the target of 4,400 plants. To increase food crops and livestock production for enhancing food security and nutrition in the country includes the targets of biogas plants, honey production, yak population, and Chevon production.

The country produced 48MT of honey, and 194MT of Chevon against the target of 41MT and 150MT respectively. The country has 41,528 yaks today over the target of 40,100.

The ministry had met four targets to promote sustainable management and conservation of natural resources. Assessment of wetland was completed in November 2017 above the Takin Preserve in Thimphu, collected 1,431 doses of animal germplasm, 111 living plants, and 65 crop germplasm. The ministry added 43 new community forests, against a target of 30 in 2017-18, taking the total to 750 in the country.

The ministry submitted the first draft of the ministry’s 12th Plan to the Gross National Happiness Commission last year.

Tshering Palden