Ministry well on track to achieve targets, officials say
MTR: With nine targets achieved and another 52 well on track out of the 73 in the 11th Plan, agriculture ministry officials said they would be able to deliver its entire target.
If the ministry continues to receive support, Agriculture minister Yeshi Dorji said, “We can achieve our Plan targets and can even go beyond the targets.”
Major accomplishments of the ministry shared at its mid-term review yesterday were farm mechanisation, production in vegetable, maize, milk, egg, and beef.
This year alone the ministry has brought 4,600 acres of land under mechanisation.
The ministry established 13 farm machinery-hiring units with 89 tractors and 174 power tillers and other machineries.
Agriculture director general Nim Dorji said a proposal for 1,450 power tillers was submitted to JICA under Japanese grant aid for distribution to the chiwogs. “Proposal for corporatization of farm mechanization services, mainly hiring, sales and services, is under process,” Nim Dorji said.
The agriculture and forest ministry has achieved annual growth of three percent from two in the previous fiscal year. In the 11th Plan, it targets a four percent growth.
The country’s vegetable sufficiency rests at 83 percent with annual production of 49,849MT vegetables, 101MT of mushrooms, and 54,681MT of potatoes in the last fiscal year. Farmers earned more than Nu 83M exporting 3,710MT of vegetables, and Nu 831.7M from 31,733MT potatoes.
The department achieved the target production of more than 88,000MT including 6,619MT of winter maize. However, 4,194MT were lost to wild animals and 31MT to hail storm in the past two years. Maize productivity increased from 1,135kg per acre to 1,311kg an acre.
The forestry and park services department has brought more forest area under sustainable management than targeted and reduced the forest fire incidence to 33 last year from 80 in 2012. Other achievements outside the Plan activities include constructing 10km of biking trail in Thimphu, establishing an endowment fund for Human-wildlife conflict, and planting 49,672 tree saplings to achieve a Guinness World Record.
It carried out the first national tiger survey, and has also completed the national forestry inventory in 17 dzongkhags.
The livestock department met its annual targets of beef and chevon production without establishing a slaughterhouse. The country produced 639MT of meat against a target of 600MT and overshot its target of 150MT of chevon by 11MT.
The livestock department asked to drop this indicator for the ministry.
The ministry also proposed reprioritisation and budget revision of the remaining Plan period.
However, the ministry’s low budget utilisation in the first half of the Plan cast some serious doubts among Gross National Happiness Commission and the finance ministry.
The agriculture department for instance spent only 80 percent of its fiscal capital budget including spill over works of the 10th Plan in 2013-14 fiscal, while utilisation decreased further to 50 in the following fiscal.
Agriculture ministry officials said that utilisation remained low as budget for some of the projects were delayed.
The 11th Plan has a total outlay of Nu 213 billion (B). Nu 140B would be generated from domestic revenue while Nu 58B is aid committed by foreign donors and international agencies. The budget has a deficit of Nu 15B.
Of the 45B the Government of India committed, it has released Nu 13.31B as of yesterday. In terms of foreign aid, of the Nu 23B committed in this fiscal, the government received Nu 8B.
“The 11th Plan being 46 percent larger than the Nu 146B 10th Plan in terms of budget, and without budget shortage, we have to ensure the money is used effectively,” Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said.
The agriculture ministry has a total plan budget outlay of Nu 13.462B, of which Nu 4.856B is capital expenditure.
Agriculture sector provides 56.6 percent of employment and its gross domestic product contribution was 16.2 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year. About 62 percent of the population depend on farming.
The ministry still has a USD 13.78 million International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD) project, two European Union projects, and a USD eight million World Bank project.