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Thinley Namgay  

According to the State of the Nation  (SoTN) Report, primary sector, including agriculture, livestock, and forestry, grew at 4.57 percent last year.

The increase  was the highest in the sector in the last five years.

“The sector’s contribution to GDP increased from 15.78 percent in 2019 to 19.23 percent in 2020,” SoNR said.

The report highlighted accelerated winter vegetable production in seven southern districts under the Economic Contingency Plan (ECP).

According to the report, 6,115.24 metric tonnes (MT) of vegetables have been produced so far, accounting for about 56 percent of winter vegetable consumption.

To ensure improved market logistics, 15 different infrastructures were constructed and 326 commercial agriculture farms were improved, the report claimed. The government engaged 167 youths by establishing 147-layer farms, 242 broiler farms, and 57 piggery breeding farms.

Under urban vegetable cultivation, 583 laid-off employees were benefited. The programme was initiated in four dzongkhags of Thimphu, Punakha, Bumthang, and Sarpang.

The government also developed 13,709.39 acres of land and helped 4,275 households. However, Bhutan also imported 1.24 billion worth of rice from January to June.

“Three significant rice fortification standards for plain rice (PR), fortified rice kernels (FRK), and fortified rice (FR) were approved by the Bhutan Standards Bureau. A rice fortification blending unit has been procured and will be established at FCBL Phuentsholing,” report said.

A remarkable progress was achieved in general  food self-sufficiency ratio, report said.

The sector maintains 100 percent for egg production, 92 percent for dairy products, 88 percent for vegetables, 74 percent for maise, 47.75 percent for meat, 33 percent for rice, and 15 percent for wet fish production.

In 2020, both upland and irrigated paddy production stood at 53,388.41 MT and maise production at 40,946.62 MT. Similarly, the production of other crops accounted for 7,162.49 MT. The milk production stood at 58,197 MT, egg production at 172 million, and honey at 44 MT.

In meat production, 1,835 MT of chicken, 182 MT of fresh fish, 879MT of pork, and 296 MT of chevon were produced.

So far, 765.6 KM of electric fencing has been installed, covering 5,224 acres, benefiting 3,200 households. In the last fiscal year, the government constructed 34.52 KM of irrigation channels and 17.33 KM of micro-irrigation schemes covering an area of 4,921 acres and 512.25 acres, respectively.

The report says that under the De-Suung National Service Water Management Projects, irrigation water projects for Taraythang was completed. The project is ongoing in Samtse, Lhuentse and other districts.  Cold storage in Sarpang, Wangdue and Trashigang will be completed within the current financial year.

Vegetable sheds were constructed in Samtse, Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar and Thimphu, and a mini agro-processing plant and a dairy enterprise were also set up in Thimphu and Trongsa.

The government also began school and a hospital feeding programme to enhance local agriculture production. Nu 544.39 million has been invested in SOEs and relevant agencies to identify and create business linkages.

The National Organic Flagship Programme began to produce ginger, turmeric, buckwheat, and lemongrass.

A total of 112 acres of land was developed for organic food production; 1,820.5 MT of organic flagship commodities like turmeric, ginger, buckwheat, and quinoa were produced.

In Trongsa, Zhemgang, and Wangdue, a total of 518.98 acres of land has been brought under sustainable land practices through terracing and terrace consolidation.

 

 

Employment

As per the Labour Force Survey 2020, unemployment stood at 16,660 compared to 8,698 in 2019..

Today, the country’s youth unemployment rate is 22.6 percent. In 2019, it was 11.9 percent.

The report says the Accelerated De-Suung Integrated Training Programme engaged 7,922 individuals, where 922 individuals were trained in the general category, and 3,947 were trained for water management.

Under the ECP, 1,300 individuals were engaged in tourism and 930 under the Build Bhutan Project (BBP).

The report mentioned that the unemployment rate is expected to remain within three to five percent due to the pandemic.

Vocational Education Training (TVET) reforms are underway and finalised the draft of the TVET Policy in June this year. Eight master trainers were recruited from Korea, Thailand and Germany.

About 61 TVET instructors were trained, and 40 TVET managers were groomed on leadership and governance. Eight new TVET courses were designed and developed.

The labour ministry launched the Skills Development Plan in October to mitigate the socio-economic impact caused by the pandemic. The plan targets individuals who are either job seekers or those affected by the current pandemic.

The ministry has identified 21 courses in tourism, agriculture, ICT, traditional arts, manufacturing, construction, electrical, mechanical and business services. Under these, 95 of the 266 individuals have been trained.

The Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship has started conducting a monthly event “Gowa”, to orient our youth towards crucial information about the labour market.

Through BBP, 46 Specialised Firms were established and are currently operating in the market. These firms have offered employment opportunities to 350 Bhutanese youths. As of 15 December, BBP has engaged 1,973 individuals.

The five TTIs started offering foundational courses in seven construction-related subjects. TTIs have trained over 1,117 people.

Since the inception of the Overseas Employment Programme in 2014, 7,388 individuals have been offered placement through the labour ministry and registered agents as of March 2020.

Today, 508 youths are trained on entrepreneurship under the CSI flagship programme.

 

Infrastructure

The government laid 893.129 km of farm roads with a granular sub-base (GSB) across 128 gewogs.

“Before the end of the current fiscal year, the remaining farm road improvement works measuring 653.051 km in 73 gewogs will be completed,” report said.

Additionally, 80.12 km of new farm roads were constructed, adding to the existing inventory of more than 11,200 km, along with the construction of 141.74 km of chiwog connectivity roads.

Besides maintenance on previously blacktopped gewog centre roads, another 65.51 km of roads were blacktopped.

Bhutan currently has around 18,000 km of roads.

A housing demand survey was conducted in the country. The spatial zoning of four thromdes and seven dzongkhags have been completed.

“We are initiating the development of a Roadmap of Roads with a timeframe until 2040 in line with the Bhutan Transport 2040.”.

Today, 151 gewogs are connected with public transport services.

The Road Safety and Transport Regulations 2021 has been revised to ensure a safe, reliable, efficient, inclusive, and environmentally friendly surface system. The revised regulations will come into effect from 1 January 2022.

Over 130 rural water schemes and five urban water schemes have been completed that have benefited 6,252 households.

Under the Digital Drukyul Flagship Programme, the biometric data of over 70,000 citizens have been collected.

“As part of enhancing digital connectivity across all government agencies, 781 of 1,084 agencies (72 percent) have been connected,” report said.

The Electronic Patient Information System (e-PIS) is underway. Bhutan Computer Incident Response Team (BtCIRT) drafted the first National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS) with stakeholders.

 

Environment

Low emission development strategies (LEDS) for industries were developed to prepare Bhutan’s Second Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) for the Paris Agreement.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Areas of Environment between Bhutan and India was virtually signed on 18 June 2021.

With technical support from the World Bank Group, a concept on the Bhutan Climate Fund (BCF), was developed to facilitate the monetisation of net harmful emissions and the carbon offsets from renewable energy generators.

Under the National Waste Management and Stray Dog Population Control Flagship Programme, nine waste drop-off centres were constructed in Thimphu Thromde and 21 waste management facilities in five gewogs of Thimphu.

A total of 10,653 dogs were sterilised and more than 16,650 have been vaccinated through an accelerated dog population management programme.

The Electric Vehicle Project Management Unit under the Prime Minister’s Office is in the process of implementing its United Nations Development Programme—Global Environment Facility (UNDPGEF) assisted project titled “Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Transport Systems”.

The project was implemented in September 2018. It aims to roll out 300 EVs as taxis by the end of September 2022.

As of date, 221 electric vehicles are on our road, of which 38 are EV taxis. Twelve additional EV taxis will be registered in the next few days. The project has installed 25 EV public charging stations in 15 locations.

Installation of charging stations in the six dzongkhags have been completed.

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