239 power tillers handed over by the Japanese government
Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay and the official representative of the Japanese government, Mr. Kikuta Yutaka , the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in New Delhi formally graced the handing and taking over ceremony of Japanese Grant 2KR (KR-II 2013) of the Japanese financial year 2013 at the Agriculture Machinery Centre in Paro last Thursday.
The Government of Japan provided Nu. 63.49 million under the KR-II grant which comprises 239 units of power tillers. Out of which, 135 power tillers will be allocated to all the Gewogs under 14 Dzongkhags of Bumthang, Chukha, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Paro, Punakha, Samtse, Sarpang, Thimphu, Trongsa, Tsirang, Wangdue and Zhemgang.
The grant provided under food security project for underprivileged farmers was formalized and notes were signed and exchanged between Mr. Kikuta Yutaka and Mr. Karma Dorji, Offtg. Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in presence of the Prime Minister.
Addressing the gathering during the handing taking ceremony Lyon- chhen said that farm mechanization has been instrumental in enabling Bhutanese farmers to increase their production of staple food crops, mainly rice, wheat and maize. He empathized that due to increasing labour shortage in rural areas , power tillers have enabled farm mechanization and greatly reduced the drudgery of farming. The utility of the power tiller is further optimized with its additional use for transportation purposes by farmers.
“Although agriculture is at the core of the country’s socio-economic development, contributing to 16% of the country’s GDP and employs 56% of the total population, the sector is faced with numerous problems - fragmented land holdings, dominant subsistence farming, inadequate irrigation facilities, non-mechanized farming practices, low productivity etc. However, I am pleased to share with you some encouraging statistics to give you an idea about the difference brought about by farm mechanisation (though this Grant Assistance) has made in our current farming practices – From a case study conducted by the Regional Agricultural Machinery Centre in 2014, there has been a 15 percent increase in the rice yield with the use of power tillers as compared to manual plough and the cost of production of rice has reduced by 48.8 percent. These incremental gains would go a long way in enabling the Royal Government to increase food production in Bhutan and meet its goal of food security and to sustain overall economic growth.” Lyonchen added.
As KRII Grant assistance enables the government to strengthen the agricultural sector and enhance its performance. It has the potential to change and uplift the lives of more than half of Bhutan’s total population and therefore, assistance in the agricul- ture sector is deeply valued and appreciated, both by the people and the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Lyonchhen thanked the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for his positive response to his request to provide 1450 power tillers to Bhutan during his visit to Japan in June-July last year.
The Government and People of Japan have been granting this KR-II grant since 1984 and Bhutan has received grant assistance for 25 times including KR-II Grant of Japanese financial year 2013 which amounts to Nu. 1803.32M and 3,186 units of power tiller. The Government of Japan hopes that this grant assistance would strengthen capacity of farmers and help mechanization and modernization of agriculture in Bhutan, and also contribute to further strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.
Farm mechanization supported by the Japanese grant is one of the main interventions aimed to realize the objective of our government’s noble policy of food security and selfsufficiency. The grant received in the form of farm machines since 1984, have helped tremendously to alleviate labour constraint and drudgery in the farming community.