Among the many themes that the Prime Minister touched upon breezily in his state of the nation address in the Parliament yesterday, some development that this country saw in the agriculture sector in the last few years, was encouraging. It is so in the light of our goal to achieve self-sufficiency. That said we still have a long way to go and earnest efforts to make.
Farm products and varieties at the Centenary Farmers’ Market in Thimphu may have grown over the years, but that does not necessarily give us the picture of agriculture development in our backyards. Government interventions and small successes besides, our farmers are faced with difficult challenges that are forcing them out of their farmlands. Electric fencing programme has not lessened crop loss in certain quarters of our settlements. Shortage of irrigation water continues to be a major challenge.
The plan that the Prime Minister shared concerning the development of the sector is encouraging so. Going by the plan, 500km electric fencing will be built in addition to 1,987km that we already have; Nu 339 million has been set aside for construction and maintenance of irrigation channels.
Although Bhutan becoming fully organic by 2020 is a little far-fetched, it is a beautiful dream nonetheless. Some recent reports have shown that Bhutan may not be able to become fully organic in less than three years even as it tried earnestly. Prime Minister rightly said that there has been lack of ‘thrust, proper policy and financial support’ for the nation to go fully organic. What must be brought in these three years that we have are all these and more, because we see agriculture development as a cross-sectoral issue. Why is fallowing of land increasing by the year? What is encouraging our young people to leave their homes and come to towns and cities by increasing numbers every year?
Whether we can be fully organic in three years is a different matter altogether. If agriculture must develop, making farming viable through critical interventions is the key. As we approach the doorstep of the 12th Plan, agriculture should receive the highest priority so that we can grow our own and eat our own.